Broadly Speaking: Unilever and Vice Talk Women’s Channel at Cannes Lions

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Often seen as a boy’s own adventure type of media empire—for boys with tattoos and a penchant for hard liquor—Vice is now eager to appeal to women, with or without tattoos. Later this summer the edgy, itchy Vice empire will add Broadly, a new website and digital video channel “focused on the issues that matter most to women.” Its content will include original reporting, documentaries and commentary via video and writing, with topics including politics, culture, sex and fashion.

Also taking  hand in content creation: Unilever, which is sponsoring Broadly in a multiyear deal that will highlight such brands as Dove, Vaseline and TRESemmé, The Guardian reports.

Cannes Lions Vice Broadly Google panel

Unilever’s brands will co-create content for the channel, highlighted on a Google-sponsored panel at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday, bringing its brands to a new audience of women, including millennials and truth-seekers who appreciate Vice’s punk rock approach to journalism.

As Broadly creative director Amel Monsur commented on the panel, titled Owning the Female Gaze, “Broadly is a platform that celebrates female thought, life, innovation and creativity. We don’t undermine female intelligence—we speak to it.” Sounds great—but is Unilever ready to put its brands on tough content such as a revenge porn doc?

Vice Cannes Lions Broadly panel

“If you look at our deals with Apple for the iAd launch, or with Google and Facebook, we learned the most when we got in at the beginning,” Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, told reporters at Cannes. “We believe that Broadly can drive purposeful, authentic and lasting conversations with our consumers, particularly the worldwide community of young women who can now engage with content that focuses on what matters most to them. Seventy eight per cent of Unilever’s sales are to women, they are the backbone of Unilever’s range of products.”

As the Hollywood Reporter noted earlier this year, Broadly’s other original programming will include “A Day in the Life, which will examine the careers and lifestyles of everyone from a bullfighter to a ballerina. Each episode will shadow one woman for a day and give a glimpse into her world. Also in the lineup is Style and Error, a fashion-focused show that will attempt to make the high-end world of fashion more accessible by ‘getting super deep with the superficial.’ Another show set to launch is How (Blank) Found Feminism, which will tell a new story in each episode of what led public figures to declare themselves feminists.”

“If you look at the current landscape of women’s media, it is purely reactionary,” publisher Shanon Kelley told the Hollywood Reporter. “Blogs are either reacting to the news, gossiping about celebrities or discussing the latest beauty and fashion trends. No one is telling original stories that women specifically relate to. For Vice, it is in our DNA to provide original, story-driven video content and speak to a millennial audience.”

But there’s also a wider goal, Weed told journalists at Cannes: “60% of agricultural output comes from women, but they own just 1% of the land. There’s something fundamental as mankind and womenkind we need to address to have a sustainable society.”

In 2010 Unilever launched its Sustainable Living Plan, by which the company set to double the size of its business while reducing its environmental footprint and increasing its positive social impact.

Weed said: “We have a point of view: we want to make sustainable living commonplace, and the only way you will do that is to engage people. One of the arguments that the sustainable movement gets caught up in is ‘why should I pay more for a product when people have done something they should have done anyway?'”

Vice and Unilever teamed up in 2012 and formed an even closer relationship last year when the latter became a partner in Vice’s Collectively, a website and now nonprofit organization dealing with sustainability issues. Beyond Unilever, Collectively’s brand partners include Coca-Cola, Google, Twitter, Nike, WPP, McDonald’s and Carlsberg.

Broadly, which came about when a slew of female employees at Vice let the company know that there was a big opportunity being missed in the women’s marketplace, will help Vice also move its own image away from solely being a place for “dudes.”

“There is an amazing group of strong, creative and dedicated women at Vice that are building this special new space within which they will be telling stories that matter to young women.” said Eddy Moretti, Vice’s chief creative officer. “It’s truly amazing to see a huge global brand strive to get out ahead of the cultural curve and support a storytelling platform dedicated to young women everywhere.”

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at Canadian Screen Week in Toronto earlier this year, Moretti said that “the brand has been evolving for 20 years, and it did skew more male originally, but the last five or six years has been about widening the umbrella and evening out the demo and the split there.”

Kelley, who has been with Vice for nearly six years, echoes that sentiment and notes that Vice hired its first female editor-in-chief, Ellis Jones, earlier this month and has female COO Alyssa Mastromonaco. “It’s an exciting time to be here and witness where we’re headed.”

Broadly, which will offer daily editorial led by video series and long-form documentaries, has been interpreted as a move away from Vice’s slightly overall “dude” tone. Its tone of voice will be shaped by Kelley and Gawker Media/Jezebel alum Tracie Egan Morrissey, its editor-in-chief and content director.

The move comes as The New York Times continues building out its women’s vertical with Tina Brown, Women in the World, which launched as an event and continues publishing original journalism, videos and content. Refinery29, which started as a fashion site, is also expanding its female-oriented content to news, wellness, entertainment and other channels.

Update: VICE confirms Aug. 3rd as Broadly’s launch date, and released its social channels:

Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/BroadlyTV
Twitter | https://twitter.com/broadly
Tumblr | http://broadlytv.tumblr.com
Instagram | https://instagram.com/broadly
Pinterest | https://www.pinterest.com/broadlytv
Newsletter | http://bit.ly/1JKF1oA

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