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Viacom’s MTV International, whose channels reach 160-plus countries and territories in 32 languages, is launching a rebranding on Thursday, moving from its iconic “I want my MTV” to a new approach dubbed “I am my MTV.”
Amid the social media boom, the international MTV networks will open up to their viewers and to talent by spotlighting social media videos created by them between TV programming on-air and across other platforms. The new #MTVbump initiative will the first of many ways MTV plans to open up the brand to young people.
In addition, MTV “Art Breaks” will bring new video art to audiences worldwide, and MTV’s promos will take on a new look and feel. Experimenting with narrative structures and visual storytelling, “they will be shorter, louder and hyper-visual,” MTV International said.
“MTV has always been committed to reinvention, and it’s time to shed our skin and reinvent again,” says Kerry Taylor, senior vp youth and music for Viacom’s Viacom International Media Networks and chief marketing officer of Viacom U.K. “Our audience expects MTV to push boundaries and take creative risks, and we truly believe that with this rebrand MTV’s international channels will look like nothing else.”
How did the rebrand originate? “About a year ago, we looked at our brand positioning and felt it was very much around celebrating young amazing lives,” Taylor tells THR. “But we felt we had lost some of the MTV edge and spunk. Seven or eight years ago, we were super-local, and every MTV around the world looked completely different. So we went through a necessary process of bringing them all in line and having a unified content structure and unified look and feel.”
She add: “That served a great purpose, but we felt we had perhaps lost some of our creative freedom. People these days want to be local, but they see themselves as global citizens and we weren’t making the most of the fact that we got this amazing global creative community. In the past, MTV was always famous for the creativity of our idents and allowing audiences to participate. So our question was how can we do that, but in a very modern and social way.”
Asked about the “I am my MTV” approach, Taylor tells THR: “That won’t be a tagline. It’s just the way we are communicating it to people. It’s about sharing MTV with the audience, employees and artists.” She adds: “Our audience is looking to brands to support them and to help them to co-create. And they look to brands like MTV to create a platform for their skills and creativity.” And she adds: “Our brand values are about being fun, passionate, optimistic, irreverent, surprising, and we feel we really capture that with this.”
MTV partnered with B-Reel Creative to connect the Internet to the network’s linear broadcast system. The result is a new content management system that allows social media videos on Instagram or Vines shared on Twitter with a hashtag, #MTVbump, to be on-air in as little as two hours. MTV will collect, select and curate videos, filtering for local relevance, pop culture topicality or other factors. MTVbump.com will also showcase the “bumps” that have made it on-air around the world.
For fans, it will be a way to engage directly with MTV, while artists can use the system to try and connect with fans. “No one is bringing user-generated content to air this quickly on a global scale,” Taylor says.
MTV will unveil additional ways for fans to create content to run on-air and across platforms in the coming year, including “online sticker book” MTV Canvas, which will launch later this summer. It will give viewers the chance to combine a variety of offered content items to make their own visual art with images, music, backdrops and more.
With Art Breaks, MTV wants to celebrate visual culture and put the spotlight on experimental video art, music and storytelling from emerging artists around the world. Artists that have worked with MTV so far include Thomas de Rijk from Amsterdam, Device from Barcelona, Johnny Woods from Los Angeles, Katie Torn from New York, Eva Papamargariti from Greece, but who lives in London, Tokyo’s Brdg and The Great Nordic Swordfights from Los Angeles. Videos from new artists will be added on an ongoing basis.
The Art Breaks will build on MTV’s “legacy of introducing its audience to video art, including early work from Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Spike Jonze, Kenny Scharf and Doug Aitken, as well as Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes,” MTV International said.
Asked for her hopes for the rebrand, Taylor tells THR: “With any rebrand, you hope that it will increase engagement and that people will have a deeper connection with the brand.”
She admits: “We don’t have any idea whether anybody will send in any bumps or so. But we know our audience expects MTV to innovate and pioneer. The only thing they won’t accept from us is creative cowardice.”
The bumps could also have additional benefits beyond branding. “We hope for this to also be a platform for discovering new talent,” she says. “If we see pieces of content that come through and people really love them, then who knows what might happen. I would love to say in a year, we had this person who created a bump and now they have their own show or something like that.”
Could other Viacom networks also end up using some of the tools created for the MTV rebrand? Says Taylor: “It works perfectly for MTV, but we do think that the technology we have created offers really opportunities for some of our other brands as well.”
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Portia de Rossi
James Gordon Meek