Digital Face Lift #3- MTV

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The Patient: MTV, the little cable network that changed television and music forever.

The Ailment: MTV suffers from Brand-nesia, a condition in which a well loved brand forgets what and who made them famous to begin with. MTV also suffers from a social media overdose, chronic pointless video abuse, and multiple marketing personalities.

Prognosis: Not so hot. Jersey Shore notwithstanding, MTV’s buzz making machine has nearly run out of steam. If a newer, fresher look and hipper demographic isn’t targeted soon, the network will continue to be a joke.

Recommended Treatment: Once upon a time, MTV set the bar for coolness and told us which artists to love and what music to buy. Even shows like Beavis and Butthead told us when to laugh. Today, however,    viewers are no longer laughing with MTV but laughing at MTV. Since the channel rarely plays music videos, TV watchers are left with a host of some of the most widely watched and ridiculed tripe to ever be created for reality TV. Sure, Jersey Shore and The Hills lure in ratings but for all the wrong reasons. Digitally, things are not much better for the network. But with a little streamlining and jazzing up, MTV could be a little more effective online.

Immediately, MTV should truly think about getting rid of a couple of things on there website. Holy Moly. It is jam packed with bombastic, jarring information, too many videos, Entertainment Tonight-style news blurbs, classic MTV content, and everything you ever wanted to know about Snookie. The website is like that kid you knew in high school who tried to be cool and ended up just being annoying. The infotainment headlines that can be seen on a zillion other websites would be the first thing to get canned. Other places do this thing better so MTV can bow out and leave a little room to breathe. The music videos, available by artist, is a great feature but be warned the player like a lazy salon receptionist, only works when it feels like it. Otherwise, it is a cool thing that should be pushed to the front. MTV makes headlines and saves big money with their reality programming so it is not going anywhere, any time soon which is fine but the oddly ordered episodes chosen for the website and lame bonus interviews with people you really don’t care about are complete head-scratchers.

The social media strategy also falls under the desperate “you must love me” marketing plan that the website suffers from. The MTV Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace pages are appropriately updated but with such a robotic auto-churn that you can swear you hear gears grinding when you read them. A little funnier, hipper and more original content would help their social media pop. Surely, the network has an army of minions who can keep all of its social networking sites fresh and entertaining, no?

Mainly, the issue that befalls MTV is who the heck is MTV anymore? The network needs to stop being a teen version of Bravo or a dumber version of TMZ or a louder version of its former self. Instead of focusing on five minutes ago artists like Adam Lambert, the network needs to be pushing new artist, designers, labels, and trends. After all, that’s what MTV became famous for in the first place.

Conclusion: While we can’t worry that MTV is going anywhere – it ain’t and as long as there’s another Lauren Conrad or Real World it is here to stay- we can wonder about the relevance. Is there anything left to do that MTV hasn’t done already? Is a return to it’s old music only format a good idea? Will MTV ever bounce back from being a punchline? Only time can tell, but with a little streamlining and a lot of re-branding, MTV might still have some tricks up its sleeve.

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