Six Girls and a Guy



Spring 2002

Volume 1   Issue 1







Logos and photos are the property of MTV corporation -

Used with permission

I want my MTV!



In this issue:

*      Introduction


*      MTV as a World Market


*      MTV Marketing Strategy


*      MTV as A Trendsetter


*      MTV’s Programming Aimed at Youth


*      MTV Publicity for Artists


*      Conclusion


*      Works Cited




By: Mike Reynolds


In 1981, television viewers got their first glance of the cable network called Music Television, also known as MTV. MTV employed an extremely simple, yet creative commercial concept towards its content: use the promotional music videos of record companies for programming. This concept eventually became the force behind one of the most profitable and influential television networks of all time. During the past 20 years, MTV has evolved into a huge producer of entertainment mediums; it has produced countless television shows, feature films, and has even created networks that span across the globe. MTV has started to dominate many aspects of popular culture and ideology. The domination of MTV not only comes from its ability to make a profit, but also from its ability to alter and guide the lives of many different people around the world. 

One thing to focus upon when researching MTV’s power is the strategy the network has used in marketing its content.  MTV’s success is not a coincidence; it is the strength of effective marketing towards particular demographics: particularly the youth of the world. MTV has developed a marketing strategy that sets trends and creates influence through effective programming geared towards current youth issues. Marketing to youth has allowed MTV to constantly remain a commercial machine; it is always churning profit, and it is always looking for ways to keep that profit flowing strong. MTV’s influence over the lives of the young has made it a corporate dream in the realm of capitalism. 




MTV as a World Market

By Sarah Rundle








 It is rare to find anyone who has not tuned into MTV, let alone heard of it. MTV is a household name to teenagers almost everywhere around the world. It has become one of the largest television channels on earth. MTV is broadcasted to five continents and viewed in over one hundred countries. Because music is extremely important to teenagers, whether it be stress relief or a form of self-expression, every teen needs his or her music. Catering to youth and acting as a counselor through tough times, MTV provides up to the minute music, fashion, lingo, trends, news and more.

MTV was formed in America in 1981. An audience was established quickly and grew rapidly as time passed. In 1984, a popular song emerged with the verse, “I want my MTV.” Apparently, everyone wanted their MTV, because it expanded greatly in the late 1980’s. Its sister company, MTV Europe, was created in 1994, and was instantly more popular than it’s sister, in terms of reaching more households. The programs are very similar to the United States’ MTV on the MTV Europe network. MTV then expanded to form MTV Australia, MTV Japan, and MTV South America. “Now it’s seen in an estimated 350 million homes around the world, in a total of 140 countries.” It has the potential to access more than a quarter of a billion homes worldwide. In the article, “I Want My MTV,” by Mathew O’Neil, he explains that people were known to pirate videos in Taiwan to show in popular parlors or showing booths.

The teenage years are among the toughest to say the least. It doesn’t matter where you live, whether it is America, Europe, Australia, or wherever, teens are uncertain of themselves and ultimately want to fit in and be accepted by their peers. Although style and appearance should not be one of the most important factors in finding friends and acceptance, it is brutally important during the teen years. But, what is the latest trend? How do we know what’s cool and what’s not? Will my hot pink vinyl pants go over with my clique at school tomorrow? Is the Brittany and Justin story old news? Thank God for MTV! With the press of a button or the click of a mouse, one can tune into MTV and find out what all the latest trends are. Need a favorite song or a fashion tip? MTV is guaranteed to have something for every young person. Not only do teens look to MTV for cool music, hot styles, and the latest lingo, but MTV also provides reality shows on drugs, sex, and other important issues related to them. 

In conclusion, MTV has spread to teens in hundreds of countries across the world in a relatively short time span. I'm sure it will continue to spread to several more in the future. It is an infectious trend that will continue to dominate television and influence the lives' of teens for years to come.




MTV Marketing Strategy

By: Amy Schiffman







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There is no doubt that MTV effectively markets itself towards the youth of today. In fact, MTV’s ability to continually be marketable to that audience is one reason why it has been able to retain its popularity throughout the course of its life span that now exceeds two decades. How do they do it? The answer lies in the strategy.

The first step in successfully marketing to a specific group is defining what the strategy will be directed towards- understanding what makes them tick. In his book entitled Creating Ever-Cool: A Marketer’s Guide to a Kid’s Heart, Gene Del Vecchio explains that successfully marketing a product lies in satisfying one or more of the target audience’s emotional needs. Some examples of these needs in relation to today’s youth are: acceptance, belonging, pride, and security (Del Vecchio 25). MTV has especially tapped into the need for belonging and acceptance by giving youth something common to talk about and experience together- something specifically created with them in mind.

After identifying the needs of the target audience, MTV marketing strategists must devise a method of satisfying those needs.  In an interview from entitled “The Merchants of Cool: Interview Todd Cunningham,” the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Planning for MTV calls the method a “feverish addiction to research and understanding young people.” The techniques Cunningham describes are unique and very interesting. Everything is videotaped. The first technique is holding focus groups in which the participants are guided to talk about selected topics. What is noteworthy about the focus groups is that they have a street appeal. They are held in a variety of locations such as basketball courts or random parking lots. The second technique is what Cunningham calls an “ethnography study” in which MTV researchers actually go into the homes of those people they are trying to market towards. The researchers look through closets and music collections and just hang out with the kids to find out what sorts of issues matter to them. The researchers then base the themes of new programs on their findings. A third technique is to travel to various locations to learn about new trends that have the possibility of becoming mainstream, thus ensuring that MTV is always on the cutting edge of popular culture. The final technique is to have random kids recreate their bedrooms at a special location. There, MTV executives can get a first hand look at who their audience is, as well as get direct feedback from the people MTV depends on for its popularity.




The culmination of all the research is an effort to make relevant programming. In this way, Cunningham notes, MTV can “stay true to the audience.” Relevance is what helps kids relate and keeps them coming back. Relevance is what has made MTV a successful marketer. As the youth changes, MTV will too- otherwise its relevance would be destroyed and it would become just another fad. Instead of growing up with a generation, MTV’s research allows generation after generation to grow up with it.



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MTV as A Trendsetter




By:  Emily Rodrigues





From the incessantly pessimistic witticisms of Daria and the constant squabbling of The Real World and Road Rules cast members, to envy-inducing fan based programs such as Cribs, Making the Video, and Becoming, MTV productions create much more than a place for which to access ordinary entertainment. The people at MTV seem to take a great deal of pride in the name, for it is no longer merely a television station, it is now a brand as well as a leader, an attitude. MTV is all around us. No matter how we might try, we cannot escape its ceaseless presence: in the news, in the magazines we read, on the Internet, on television, and on the streets, we find it. MTV is inescapable. 

Geared toward the most influential and outspoken portion of our society and population, MTV targets youth interest. They champion an image of young role models and superstars for today’s youth to idealize. Teens are presented with reality shows like The Real World seemingly to portray a truth that life is not necessarily as pure and perfect as some television programs may convey; the kinds of shows to which they may relate. Broadcasting of fantasy-come-true type programs such as Becoming appeals to the dreamer inside us all.



The success of MTV is further perpetuated by its repeated use of cutting-edge marketing strategies and tactics. Through its association with major corporations and businesses, MTV commands an impressive image among the public. For instance, MTV’s collaboration with AT&T in the launch [of] the Campus Invasion Tour. The tour, which featured hot (major) bands in concerts at 25 schools nationwide, broadened MTV’s influence by associating its name with AT&T, a well-established corporation. The pairing demonstrated that MTV - while dedicated to providing the latest youth-oriented music –simultaneously embraces the tried-and-true. This contrasts with the notion that MTV utilizes an irreverent style intended to deliberately exclude individuals over the age of thirty. 



Following the example of many outspoken or blunt celebrities and individuals appearing on MTV programming, the youth of our nation has become increasingly expressive of their feelings, holding nothing back. As well, they have become bolder in demanding the rights and privileges to which they feel they are entitled. MTV has not only promoted this attitude to the youth in the United States, but its message is universally broadcast. Advertisements and merchandise related to MTV shows can be found most everywhere.  This type of widespread promotion allows the MTV Corporation to appeal to broader audiences and consumers, as well as to further enrapture or captivate their current viewers and customers.  




Since the time in which MTV began, it has expanded immensely and successfully to cover a variety of disciplines. Collaboration with major companies, creative programming and product merchandising, print ads, internet accessibility, and of course television broadcasting name only a portion of the domination that MTV has over the entertainment and product industries. Though there may be differing opinions regarding the effects of MTV’s reign over today’s youth, it is no wonder we consider it a trendsetter. MTV is everywhere.



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MTV’s Programming Aimed at Youth




By: Rachel Richardson







When you turn on MTV, what do you see? You see teen idols, young attractive singers and bands, and many other things that attract the eyes of the world’s youth. MTV is attractive to a youth’s eye because it features “hot” singers and popular music. Teenagers run straight home from school just to watch TRL or whatever is on MTV at that time. What is MTV’s magic to attract all of these youth’s eyes?



One of the ways that MTV attracts youth is its programming. MTV is not just all about music these days. It has many different television shows. MTV also has added reality shows like, The Real World, Tough Enough 2, and The Real World vs. Road Rules Challenge. These types of shows attract teens because the people on the shows are young people themselves, in their twenties usually. The shows also are interesting and sometimes controversial, which keeps the viewer tuning in every week. MTV tries to have attractive people on these shows so the viewers will pay attention to them. MTV has a very popular show called TRL. Carson Daly hosts this show. The show is a music countdown and has special guests on it. Teenagers can call the show and get on MTV’s website to vote for what music videos they want on the countdown. This also attracts the youth because they get to interact with the show. MTV’s shows are successful at attracting viewers and keeping them interested enough to keep coming back.




Another way that MTV attracts youth is the commercials that they air with their programs. Many of MTV’s commercials are previews of their own shows, but the rest of the commercials attract the youth also. Some of the other commercials are for clothing stores or for shoe companies. Clothes and shoes are things that teenagers and young people want to wear so they will look ‘cool’. Other commercials are for upcoming movies, the internet, or cars. Those commercials attract the youth because, teenagers like to go and watch movies with their friends, the internet is a big thing in their life and they are always on it, and some of those teenagers will be driving soon, so they are looking for a car to buy. The commercials attract many viewers and help MTV’s ratings.

Another way that MTV attracts the youth is the music that they play. They play music that most teenagers listen to. Teenagers would not want to watch or listen to MTV’s music if it was something that their parents listened to. Music is a big thing in youth’s lives that they turn to make them happy or help with their problems. The music is still probably the biggest reason that the youth tunes into MTV and watches it. In the article, “The Scarlet R,” the author Steve McClellan states that, “MTV’s own research shows that its total day audience is forty six point eight percent kids and teens” (McClellan 1). This percentage shows that most of MTV’s audience is the youth. MTV’s music will always be for the youth, because this gets them their greatest viewers.




MTV started out with music, but now has evolved to something greater with more aspects and different programs for different people to enjoy. MTV is a great channel for anyone to enjoy, but is usually valued the most by the youth. MTV’s magic attracts the youth’s eyes, because of its programming, commercials, and the music that it plays. MTV will always focus on the youth and getting them under its spell.



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MTV Publicity for Artists




By: Michelle Rendine








From the very beginning, MTV has been about two things: music videos and the artists that create them. However, it is also about making them look good in the public eye. What would the station be like today if the artists that write and perform their music weren’t popularized? The format would obviously have been changed dramatically. Publicity, whether it is good or bad, is a major factor in what makes MTV what it is today.



Celebrities in the entertainment industry know that if a project they are working on (movie or new CD) needs promoting, they can make an appearance on MTV, particularly Total Request Live, to help create interest and boost sales. TRL, one of MTV’s top rated shows, is a countdown show that is taped live Monday through Friday in the MTV studios in New York City. Viewers can call or email the station to request their favorite video for the day, enter contests, play trivia games, and meet their favorite celebrities. The show has such an affect on the industry that some big name artists sometimes hold off on releasing a music video until they can have a special debut spot on the countdown.




Aside from TRL, MTV has produced numerous television shows that publicize music artists and celebrities. Shows such as Diary, MTV Cribs, and Unplugged take the viewers into the stars lives with a behind the scenes look at daily routines, the celebrity’s homes and intimate concerts. Shows like Making the Video/Movie, Becoming, and Fanatic, show the viewers at home what it is really like to make a music video and people fulfilling their dreams of meeting or becoming their favorite artist. And who can forget everyone’s favorite blood bath Celebrity Deathmatch? A show where mini claymation models of superstars make fun and beat each other in a preposterous dueling wresting match to the death. The station also produces other special publicity events such as concerts, movie promotions, and charity sports games. A prime example of this was when MTV put together a special to promote Brittany Spears’ first movie Crossroads. Spears, one of the most publicized artists in the industry since her debut in 1999, had an entire hour interview dedicated to the film consisting of clips and a question and answer session with some fans. 




Then there is MTV News. Video jockeys covering all major news issues keep viewers updated with five- minute stories that air at “ten to the hour, every hour only on MTV”. From new albums to band break ups, scandals and crimes to prison sentences, MTV News makes sure the public knows what is happening with their favorite artists.




Celebrities and viewers world -wide alike know that you haven’t really made it unless you are on MTV. The station, for only being in existence for twenty years, has had an undeniable impact on pop culture and has helped create success for many as well as establishing itself as an icon. It can make or break a career in a matter of minutes. Whether it is a behind the scenes look, claymation characters, or a promoting a new movie, MTV has a way of creating a buzz and drawing in viewers from all age ranges.




MTV really is about music videos and the artists, but it is also about publicity and doing or saying whatever it takes (not too far from the truth) to get people to watch. With MTV, there is constant publicity for the artists exhibited on the station, whether it is intentional or not.



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By: Mike Reynolds









MTV has definitely established itself as a marketable commercial power. Since its humble beginnings as just a station  with not much more programming than music videos, MTV has become noted for much more. It is an instantly recognizable entity capable of generating huge amounts of profit. All around the world teenagers have become influenced by the content seen on MTV. Many teens use MTV as a source for the hottest celebrity gossip, a teaching tool for the latest styles, and a guide for the most popular music. MTV has become the identity for millions of teenagers, and it has allowed them access to a world of seemingly endless youth. MTV keeps teenagers feeling young and stylish and at the same time it gives them a source to which they can trust and confide in. The power MTV has over the world’s youth is truly the fuel that keeps MTV going. It seems that as long as MTV remains the essential design of post modern teen identity, it will also remain an unstoppable juggernaut of commercial and corporate superiority. 














Works Cited




Web designer and editor Amy Rosen




AT& (1998).  AT&T Teams With MTV, Rolling Stone for College Marketing Blitz.  February 14.  Available Online:


Clark, Tim (2001).  Electric programming strikes right cord.  Variety. 384 (8), A2 and A6.


Del Vecchio, Gene (1997).  Creating Ever-Cool: A Marketer’s Guide to a Kid’s Heart. Gretna, La: Pelican.


McClellan, Steve (2000).  The Scarlet R.  Broadcasting and Cable, 130(39), 14-15.


PBS (2001). The Merchants of Cool: Interview Todd Cunningham. February 17.  Available Online:









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