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Brief Published: 4 Mar 2021

Vans Launches Live Broadcast Platform Channel 66


US skate brand Vans continues to push the boundaries of its remit as a retailer wedded to grassroots youth culture and local-centricity with the launch of its own live broadcast platform, Channel 66. Echoing physical initiatives, it aims to be a “one-stop entertainment channel” straddling the brand’s topical mainstays of music, art, sports and street culture.

The channel taps into the Retail Meets Media trend (first explored in our Dynamic Youth: Gen Z Spotlight) and the Covid-triggered leap into digital streaming (see Leveraging Live-Stream Commerce). Running from 11am EST to 8am PST every weekday, it will host live performances, workshops and “curated conversations”, with Friday nights dedicated to live music and dance-centric DJ sets.

Locality will be key, with shows emphasising the communities from which they’re broadcast (studios are located in Van’s own spaces – the General in Brooklyn, House of Vans Chicago, Mexico City (Spanish speaking shows), and the Vans DTLA flagship in Downtown LA). It’s part of a strategic shift to home in on communities, not solely cities (see Leaning into Local) – without jettisoning general interest.

Early broadcasts reveal the versatility of a concept designed to continue in a somewhat hazy future. These include a show hosted by American rock musician Walter Schreifels of Gorilla Biscuits and Quicksand, and another by writers’ support collective Young Chicago Authors. Meanwhile, an ‘all ages’ show reviewed LA life through the lens of a disparate mix of musicians and athletes. Takeovers by local skate shops, restaurants, music venues and independent record labels should also be anticipated.

For more on how live streaming and content creation in the IRL (in real life) brand space is playing out, see Broadcast Basecamps in Brand Spaces: 10 Trends & Opportunities, 21/22.