Vice, Pinterest and Bank of America Deal Is Yet Another Sign of Ad World’s Reckoning

Content and tech are a match made in Cannes

CANNES, France—Vice's Shane Smith says the big story at this year's Cannes gathering is all about content creators, tech companies and brands coming together—a combination that is shaking up the industry. We're seeing a realignment in the ad world that brings together some odd groupings, like Vice, Bank of America and Pinterest, Smith said during a panel today alongside his new partners.

The three companies are collaborating on a marketing effort for the bank called The Business of Life, a digital video series produced by Vice, sponsored by Bank of America and promoted on Pinterest. The series launched earlier this year, but this was the first time Pinterest discussed how its platform helps reach the campaign's target audience of millennials.

"What's happening now are partnerships that you've never seen before," Smith said. The talk, hosted by MediaLink, was held at the Pinterest Porch, a pop-up base for the company at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Smith compared Vice's deal with Pinterest and Bank of America to Snapchat's new venture with the Daily Mail and WPP, a jointly owned agency called Truffle Pig, which was announced this week. "That's exactly what we're doing here," he said. "We have the platform, media and brands."

These collaborations represent a sea change, he said, as media agencies are in the biggest shake-up perhaps in their history, with billions of dollars in business under review and up for grabs. The moderator, MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, called the current business climate "Reviewageddon," or perhaps a less sinister sounding "Reviewapalooza," as a number of top-spending brands look for new marketing deals challenging the traditional agency model.

"You have new alliances forming. You can see where [the industry is] going," Smith said. "You can see it going to a more bespoke, case-by-case, platform, content, brand kind of thing."

In this case, Vice produces a personal finance show sponsored by Bank of America. Pinterest came into the partnership with a new offering called Pinsight Labs, which can offer a look at what financial topics interest its millennial audience.

"It's a little bit of strange bedfellows and that's what was intriguing," said Meredith Verdone, global chief strategy and marketing officer at Bank of America. "To say: 'Listen, how can we tap into the relationship, the storytelling that they do with their audience, to tell the story about better financial lives."