When Spencer Baim came up with the idea for Virtue Worldwide, the marketing arm of hipster juggernaut Vice Media, he hoped to capitalize on the company’s coveted audience by selling advertisers expertise on how to reach it. Six years later, Virtue’s a success. Among other achievements, Baim has convinced companies like Dell and Intel (not exactly known for their cool kid cred) to throw money at edgy, youth-oriented content and events—decking out Coachella in light sculptures, for example.
Baim’s approach has been simple: convince brands to cut through the noise around young demos by targeting, and sponsoring, projects that are especially attention-worthy—whether outrageously fun (a skateboarding tour) or meaningful (a video series on technology). That’s not to say it’s always a snap convincing brands to take the leap. Baim, a veteran creative strategist, stresses the importance of process and planning in leading clients to unconventional work. “For a client to do something brave, they have to feel safe,” he says. “I think we’re very good at holding clients’ hands and taking them to a new place.”