Global youth media company Vice is set to expand its sub-brand Viceland in the local market in partnership with Sky. And in an effort to engage with audiences, it's inviting Kiwis to call in and say anything that pops into their minds.
The 24/7 TV channel will launch 1 December with programmes that cover culture, music, sports, fashion, news, sexuality, technology and more from around the world. However, to ensure it doesn't miss an opportunity to please fans, it's launched a promotion encouraging fans to call Vice and leave a message about what they want, or don’t want to see.
Playing out across the Vice digital networks, and Sky's on air and social channels, it directs those with ideas the number 0800-842-388.
And for those who don’t have suggestions, Vice encourages them to call and hold the line to be mysterious.
Josh Gardiner, the head of communications for Vice across Australia and New Zealand, says that the campaign elicited some strong responses when it was first launched in the US, with many people calling in an addressing some tough issues, including the Orlando shooting.
"The UK and Australia are also running their own free call lines, adding to the mix of accents and opinions," says Gardiner. "We see the voicemail as a great way to localise the channel and forge a unique voice for Viceland in New Zealand, and we'll be turning the calls into on-air and social clips."
Gardiner says Kiwis from around the country have already started calling in, and he expects many more to follow over the next few weeks.
This campaign has parallels with The Swedish Number campaign, which allowed people from around the world call Sweden and be connected to a random Swede.
Similarities aside, the initiative certainly serve as an indication that Vice is trying to stay true to its positioning as a brand eager to give the audience what it wants (Vice's head of marketing David Benge touched on this in an interview with StopPress earlier this year).
"We want the voicemail to elicit the weird, random and heartfelt; to be a feedback loop on important social issues and moments, which in turn can better help us understand the things that matter most to people," says Gardiner.
However, Vice is not leaving it all up to fan feedback, with it already announcing programming that will feature hosts Ellen Page (Emmy Award-nominated Gaycation), Michael K Williams (Black Market) and Action Bronson (F*ck! That’s Delicious). All will be overseen by award-winning director Spike Jonze.
Viceland will be available on Sky channel 13, Sky Go and On Demand for existing and new Sky Basic customers.