What Pedestrian and Vice leaders had to say about Aus partnership

Vice Australia

• Matt Rowley and Myki Slonim comment on the groundbreaking deal

Pedestrian Group has inked a multi-year deal with the world’s largest independent youth media company, Vice Media Group. The long-term partnership is a global first for Vice, and means that Pedestrian Group will be the exclusive publishing and commercial partner for Vice Australia.

The deal also outlines the launch of a new platform: Refinery29 Australia, which is described as being the new leading media and entertainment destination for women in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

In a virtual press conference Matt Rowley, CEO of Pedestrian Group and Myki Slonim, president, Vice Digital at Vice Asia Pacific, commented on the partnership between the two major publishing brands.

Rowley said that part of the appeal is that Vice has a voice and content pallet that is very different from Pedestrian, and also provides a very different audience.

“If you look at Nielsen there is only a 7% overlap between the two, so it is a very additive audience for us and a new range of readers and viewers to get to.”

Rowley also said bringing Refinery29 to Australia will give a voice of the now for young women.

Refinery has a very very special voice, even though it has not launched in Australia, if you look at Nielsen you would see that they are already attracting audiences that are on the same scale and size of properties that have already been here for a while.”

Slonim described the deal as a case of planets aligning.

“Pedestrian is looking for strong distinct brands as part of their portfolio, we at the same time are looking for innovative ways to build our brands and scale audiences.”

What will the teams look like?

Vice Australia will start working under Pedestrian Group effective immediately, with local staff folding into the business. This includes Vice senior reporter ​Gavin Butler​ and ​Victoria Yelland Riddell​, commercial lead for Vice & Refinery29, who will join the team led by Pedestrian Group commercial director ​Rachel Tikey.

Rowley described the approach to additive, confirming there will be no layoffs.

“There will be a distinct editorial team for Vice and a distinct editorial team for Refinery 29.” 

Will Pedestrian be changing Vices’ content?

Rowley said that they will not be changing the creative direction of Vice, just making it more local and getting it to more people, the main impact will be commercial.

“We wouldn’t be doing this deal if we didn’t want to work with that Vice voice that was there already.”

“What we are really looking to do is amplify that voice. I think the thing that will be a little bit different is for readers that they will be seeing more Vice content that is ANZ based.”

“The bigger impact as far as the partnership is concerned is us putting the full Pedestrian Group behind Vice and Refinery. Pedestrian Group all up is around about 100 people in Australia, so we would be putting all of that commercial team, all the studio team, and all of those project teams behind them. The bigger impact will be what we can do with commercial partners and advertisers and all the different thing that we can do because of the scale we have in this market.”

Slonim added: “A big part of this from our side was what big supporters the team at Pedestrian Group are both behind Vice and Refinery 29 and their missions and their voices. The heart of this partnership was wanting to not just maintain those voices but build on them.”

Vice bringing long form videos to Pedestrian

Rowley said that Pedestrians TV’s voice and character has leaned towards social videos and that Vice will bring a new element to its video offering.

Vice has always had that voice and built out that capability for that longer form type of video content that talks to different platforms, YouTube for example. That is something that we have been thinking about how Pedestrian group can develop into, now having Vice as part of the group we are instantly there.”

Launching a new digital product in 2021

While the digital space has shrunk in the last year with the closure of Buzzfeed Australia and 10 Daily, Rowley said that Pedestrian Group has grown year on year and they are confident in Vice Australia and Refinery 29’s chances.

“It has always been about a self-sustaining business model. It has always needed to be profitable to reinvest in the business and build. It has never been a sort of venture capitalist backed business model. Knowing that we have been able to grow during Covid, bringing these other brands on board that we know people love and distinct from the brand we have already, the reason why we are confident that this going to work is that we can put the Pedestrian might behind these brands in a way no other youth or lifestyle publisher can.”

Slonim added: “The two punch in this partnership is the backing of those brands and the missions behind them and then plugging into the commercial part of Pedestrian group.”

Top Image: Matt Rowley, CEO of Pedestrian Group 

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