If the modern version of Vice has a born-on date, it may have come in the spring of 2010, when the company landed a meeting with Intel, the computer-chip-maker, which wanted more young people to care about Pentium processors. Vice was still running on a shoestring, and Intel promised access to a $2 billion annual marketing budget. “Shane’s whole thing was, ‘We can’t let them think we’re these poor kids,’ ” says one former employee. (A number of current and former Vice employees, many of whom signed nondisclosure agreements, requested anonymity in order to talk about the company.) According to multiple employees who worked at Vice at the time, Smith went to the architecture firm across the hall from Vice’s Williamsburg office and asked how much it would cost to get them to move out ASAP. Vice’s 50 employees then worked around the clock for several days setting up the new space to look like it had been Vice’s all along. Vice constructed a glass-enclosed conference room to host the Intel meeting, and late one night, an employee answered a buzz at the door to find a plumber who’d come to install a fancy Japanese toilet.
On the morning of the Intel meeting, Vice employees were instructed to get to the office early, to bring friends with laptops to circulate in and out of the new space, and to “be yourselves, but 40 percent less yourselves,” which meant looking like the hip 20-somethings they were but in a way that wouldn’t scare off a marketing executive. A few employees put on a photo shoot in a ground-floor studio as the Intel executives walked by. “Shane’s strategy was, ‘I’m not gonna tell them we own the studio, but I’m not gonna tell them we don’t,’ ” one former employee says. That night, Smith took the marketers to dinner, then to a bar where Vice employees had been told to assemble for a party. When Smith arrived, just ahead of the Intel employees, he walked up behind multiple Vice employees and whispered into their ears, “Dance.”
What a story.
Make sure to read all of it. Vice has always been odd -how are they this successful with that content? for example-, and this explains a lot of why that is. (or was)