Waypoint, Vice's newest offshoot, doesn't want to be the typical gaming site, so it also didn't want to launch in a typical way. That's why Waypoint used a 72-hour livestream to celebrate its launch, which just ended.
"There are plenty of interesting communities and stories within gaming that aren't really attached to product cycles or marketing campaign successes," said Joel Fowler, Waypoint's publisher, who stepped away from the livestream to chat Monday. "We'd rather focus on the notion of why people play games or create stuff."
The livestream, which was broadcast on Twitch, included appearances by game developers, gaming reporters and even rapper Chief Keef who joined in on the "72 games in 72 hours" fun. Games ranged from tabletop classics, variations of Dungeons and Dragons, an anime block and the new edition of the first-person shooter game Titanfall 2.
The livestream was Waypoint's "big hello to the world," said Fowler. "We're largely just trying to play nicely with everyone, which you don't always see from other gaming sites."
While this experiment/endeavor/feat was carrying on, the livestream also included the industry's first live ads. Carl's Jr. was the presenting sponsor of the event. Every 60 or 90 minutes, a "sketch" involving the burger chain's mascot was played live in front of viewers.
"Our target audience is, what we call, 'young, hungry guys,'" said Brad Haley, the CMO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee's and Carl's Jr. properties. "And Vice has become the media hub for the millennial generation."
A ton of trust went into this partnership, as the spontaneity of live ads in front of so many people, gives brands instant feedback on their spot.
Luckily, the video game community embraced it with open arms. Viewers even sent in fan art throughout the broadcast of the livestream.
"One of the interesting, or scary, things about working with cutting edge brands like Vice," said Brandon LaChance, the director of advertising for CKE Restaurants, "is that you really do need to turn over the keys to your own brand. Let them do what they do best."
The way LaChance sees it, these new media brands know their audiences best.
"You really have to seek out partners who embody the trust and authenticity their viewers will respond to," said LaChance.
"This is obviously a long way from the push-model of advertising," said Haley. "But this is absolutely a transition point in advertising and for franchise businesses. There's a bit of a new mindset that needs to take place."
"Everyone was truly surprised at how positive the instant feedback was," said LaChance, who was also on-site at Vice's offices for most of the streaming event. "There's a really cool community on Twitch that's kind of self-policing. They'll weed out those who aren't playing nicely."
Carl's Jr. and Hardee's will now take those segments and edit them into short-form content for further distribution either on Vice or CKE's platforms.
"Vice is a trendsetter and a game changer on a lot of fronts," said Haley. "This audience appreciates the rawness that these live ads presented, and they roll with it. We're both fans of trying things that haven't been done before."
"It was exhausting, but it was an absolute blast," said Fowler. "Carl's Jr. gave us a ton of freedom and trusted us with this big undertaking."