Startups

Vice Price wants to help you find cheap cigs — and has a curious marketing strategy

Founder Justin Hinh explains his vision for the forthcoming app, which will help users find the nearest and cheapest alcohol, tobacco and drink specials. “Very D.C.,” he said.

For a former Capitol Hill intern from Utah, Justin Hinh is decidedly not politically correct.
After getting “burned out” by politics, Hinh decided to harness the city’s boozy culture by launching a startup called Vice Price.
The app “will tell you the nearest and the cheapest alcohol, tobacco and happy hours,” said Hinh, the company’s self-appointed “Vice” President.
He paused.
“This is the biggest town full of functioning alcoholics and smokers I have ever met my entire life,” Hinh said. “You think Vegas is the sin city? D.C. is the sin city.”

Vice Price founder Justin Hinh is a former Capitol Hill intern.

Vice Price founder Justin Hinh. (Courtesy photo)


Hinh, who is in the process of creating the Vice Price MVP, is going all in on shock value. His marketing strategy, he said, will involve poking fun at corporate America’s PR promises on issues like diversity in the workforce, product-market fit and community engagement.

  • Idea No.1: “I love women. That’s why we’re going to have an initiative to have 90 percent of our workforce be women by 2017.” Hinh added that he would not actually hire “only beautiful, blonde women.” But the marketing campaign might imply that to be the case.
  • Idea No. 2: “We’re going to go around and pretend to give homeless people a pack of cigarettes.”
  • Idea No. 3: “I can’t think of a better sponsor of children’s playgrounds in schools than Vice Price.”

“I like being funny,” said Hinh. “I like being sarcastic.”
When asked whether he was ready to face the backlash of such controversial marketing gimmicks, Hinh answered sarcastically.
“I hope that they don’t get so angry they tell people on Facebook about how awful we are!”
Hinh added that his point was not that diversity and poverty don’t matter, but that companies are often disingenuous.

“Our generation hates inauthenticity,” he said. “Let’s make fun of it.”

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