“Can I vape? That’s all I want to know to be honest. If you let me vape, you can ask me any question you want.” Fresh off a 16-hour flight from Dubai, 20 minutes late to the interview and two vapes in each hand, we chat to marketing genius, Senior Vice President and Head of Innovation of Vice Media, Mark Adams, and the brains behind award-winning campaigns for the likes of Coca-Cola, Dove, Gymshark, Lululemon and more.
What is your formula for staying ahead despite not knowing what is going to happen in the future?
I’m not saying this is a perfect science, but what you can start to do is find what I would call the digital twin. So, you could say that CBD oil network is about as big as the craft beer network was in 2001, and the craft beer network ended up being worth $X billion. So, we could probably assume that the CBD network is going to get somewhere in that range. And that for me brings a lot of sanity to the question of the future because who the hell knows what the future’s got?
Are there any brands that you think are doing exceptionally well in terms of having that perfect balance between trending and virality and staying on top of innovating?
I’m really obsessed with the little brand called Tony’s Chocolonely. What’s really fascinating about them is they didn’t intend to launch a chocolate brand. They were two documentary filmmakers making a documentary about the obscene levels of abuse in the chocolate trade value chain.
They realised that if you could make something that tasted pretty much the same, it wouldn’t even have to taste as good. And so they nailed this idea that, ‘well, if it doesn’t make much difference to you, why don’t you just buy this one?’ And they smashed it.
I always come back to Dove [as well] as I adore that brand because let’s remember, it’s a f*cken cheap soap. They divorced from a category of things that people are like A or B. But it’s so interesting to see a brand that most people would say is really low interest as a category. And Dove made that. They invented a new vector upon which that category had to compete.
Being in New Zealand for a short amount of time, what do you admire the most about the creative scene that you’ll take away from here?
You have an unfathomably deep storytelling tradition. I think it’s amazing not only that you have that, but that you remind yourselves of it. And that is an infinite superpower. I would really urge you to lean into it. I think it’s beautiful and it’s incredible. And you just love drum and bass, and that is awesome.