Unveiling the Youth Mindset: VICE's cutting-edge research dives deep into the pulse of the next generation: VICE Media’s Rohit Tugnait

Unveiling the Youth Mindset: VICE's cutting-edge research dives deep into the pulse of the next generation: VICE Media’s Rohit Tugnait

Tugnait has over 20 years of extensive media management experience.


Mumbai: VICE Media Group set up an office in India in JV with The Times of India, in 2018 to produce local content. It is the world’s largest independent youth media company. Launched in 1994, VICE has offices in 35 cities across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICE TV, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award-winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency with 25 offices around the world. 

VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women; PULSE Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin; and i-D, a global digital and bimonthly magazine defining fashion and contemporary culture.

Rohit Tugnait has over 20 years of extensive media management experience, he has been working towards developing and leading youth media brands across digital and TV. He is currently responsible for managing the India operations for the VICE Media Group with an aim to demonstrate the power of the brand VICE to both consumers and advertisers and responsible for growing all lines of business within VICE's India region, including VICE Digital, Studios and Content Partnerships. 

Edited excerpts

On VICE Media going through a major overhaul in recent times, how has the company in India fared

VICE is committed to producing incredibly compelling content that reaches our audiences weekly, at the same time weave unique storytelling for our brand partners through video. This is reflected in an increased audience size, revenue and number of awards won for us YOY. So, it’s pretty much business as usual for us in the APAC region.

On the USP VICE Media has that makes it a go-to destination for brands

At VICE we invest heavily in understanding the mindset of the youth via research. What youth trends are leading, conversations they are having, interesting spaces they are spending time in and so on. This rich data helps us become predictors of youth trends and be ahead of the curve in our conversations with audiences on behalf of brands

On Dentsu winning big on content developed by VICE Media

The Unfiltered History Tour was a guerrilla tour of the British Museum’s stolen artefacts, Using Instagram Augmented Reality filters. This was a concept our friends at Dentsu brought to us, we were in a 100 per cent because it is so core to what we stand for. The challenge was to cut through a crowded media environment while sticking to our editorial mission of placing Vice at the forefront of conversations around under-reported issues like colonialism. We had to connect with a younger readership and find a way for them to embrace these issues beyond news headlines and hot takes on social media. It worked beautifully and our sweep at Cannes is a testament to that

On strategising for a brand story

We typically use our strategy team to find a unique space to a story and present it in a narrative that educates, entertains or enlightens, sometimes all 3. We like sparking conversations and in my opinion that’s what makes us unique. Case in point, Durex came to us for ideas to promote their product 'Intense', what started as a regular conversation to present ideas around a product, led to a larger campaign thought. Research showed us that 'nearly 70% of women in India do not have an orgasm every time they have sex'. We led our campaign from the voice of women, educating men, on what women like in bed. We showcased this in a tongue in cheek manner via a 3-minute video which was extremely well received.

On sharing a few successful campaigns

As I mentioned above the Durex campaign was a great success for us. Likewise, the Budweiser folks reached out to us during the FIFA world cup that they were sponsoring globally, to create some surround sound here in India. What we proposed was a 3-part docu-series around the Indian Football story. From the myths surrounding our team post-Independence chronicling to the present-day scenario and the reignited excitement around football with the youth. This project of ours is doing the rounds in the awards circuit currently

On unconventional storytelling

Many a time brands ask for branded content solutions but what they are  looking for is a long form ad. At VICE it becomes our responsibility to educate them and show them the difference between ads and content. While authentic storytelling won’t lead to immediate product sales, it leads to brand love and that in the long run can be greatly beneficial for a brand. More and more marketeers are starting to understand this and are willing to take risks with partners such as us to push the boundaries on storytelling. Projects like those are immensely satisfying for us, because not only are they core to our way of representing a story, in majority cases it also helps us show movements on brand metrics to clients.

On attention spans getting reduced, is video content more feasible today

We are a country where people are lazy when it comes to reading, so video and audio are definitely the popular formats of consumption. Attention spans have indeed reduced, given the quantum of content served to a consumer daily. And so the relevance of content, the platform relevancy to the nature of content and the narrative of content becomes very important to engage. eg - I would serve a 10 min docu on football for Budweiser during the FIFA playout on YouTube, have a 1 min capsule of the story on Facebook and put out interesting visuals of football moves as posts on Instagram. Thereby serving the same topic to a consumer but in different formats to meet their consumption habit on that platform.

On the vision and focus for 2023 and the way forward in India

The next 3 years will be aggressive growth years for VICE India by way of audience development and revenue. We are also looking at building a few IP's attached to the passion points of the youth. More to come on this.