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Cropped image for MTV post

As a fledgling marketing apprentice in a creative full service agency, I often hear the term “millennial” banded about the office. In the early days, I always assumed it was with reference to the generation born after the year 2000. The realisation soon came that this demographic group actually spans from 1980 – 2000, making me a prime millennial myself. Upon discovering this I decided to do some personal research into the term and what it actually means. There’s a lot of marketing buzz around millennials and how to reach this generation. This tech savvy group take up a 23% of the UK population. During my spell of detective research (yes you can call me Poirot if you like) I found that the previous generation was referred to as the “MTV Generation”. This made me even more curious as to how MTV are now reaching their target audience, no longer having a reputation of being the revolutionary, pioneering phenomenon it once was.

On the 25th of June 2015, MTV launched its new on-air brand refresh. The channel made it very clear that they’re moving with the times and pushing for the engagement of millennials. As a brand, MTV always had the aim of engaging and promoting new artists to attract young audiences. This started out when the logo designer Frank Olinsky (and co) was asked to come up with the corporate colours of the logo. His response was that there shouldn’t be any; the logo should evolve and adapt with different colours and materials just like the ever-changing music industry itself.

Much has changed since then. The loss of the words “music television” from the logo in 2010 was when it felt like MTV had resigned to the fact that it’s not what it once was, predominantly airing reality shows about teenage pregnancies and internet dating. Fast-forward to 2015 and the new branding encompasses a revitalised and personally-relevant platform to entice millennials – viewers can now add their own idents through social media posts using the hashtag #mtvbump.

Admittedly, the idea is good. Research from Ipsos Media CT Tech Tracker shows that 38 per cent of tablet computer owners use their tablets while watching TV at least once a day, with a further 15 per cent doing so a minimum of once a week (I know I’m increasingly guilty of absentmindedly flicking through my phone while the TV is on).

With an increasing amount of young people on social media– what better way to enhance brand perception than to get your audience immortalised on TV and on the MTV bump website (www.mtvbump.com). The website however, hasn’t appeared to have the best start (for the UK at least). Their favourite clip, sent in by HELLIEB7, has been aired seven times (they’ve only aired seven different clips so far) and they’re all fairly uninspiring. I’m not sure how well it’s working in terms of promoting fresh creatives, with their favourite UK video being a slow motion clip of “#beeporn”.

The new visuals from MTV’s side are reminiscent of 90s internet culture and encompass the whole seapunk subculture –incredibly garish. In terms of grabbing the attention of the youth attached to their phones, they may have succeeded. However, in one article, Maxus’ Head of Strategy Stuart Butler was quoted saying “In the way that these people consume media and brands, they are drivers not passengers. You have to give them stuff that is genuine and not overly contrived.” Which is where MTV’s new look may fail them.

One comment on Creative Review’s article (titled “Because the internet: MTV launches GIF and meme-inspired visual identity”) read “This is the design equivalent of dad dancing at the disco. It makes me feel sad”. Another says “I imagine this is what it looks like inside a teenage head in 2015. Which is maybe the whole point”.

I think that the idea and the intention behind this brand refresh came from a good place but the final result may be just a bit too “try-hard”. To MTV’s credit, it’s still in its early days – and it will be interesting to see how it develops over time.

Blog by Marketing Executive Intern, Lucy Beglin

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