The Situation In 2006, MTV was celebrating its 25th anniversary with a minor identity crisis. The iconic brand was searching for relevance in the YouTube era. Their strategy was to experiment broadly with new digital platforms that might change their business.
MTV Awards Show Platform (2006)
Our first assignment with MTV was in support of their awards shows, including the hugely popular VMAs. The problem was that with every awards show, 4-5 times a year, they found themselves building expensive, one-off websites with the same features.
Our strategy was to create a reusable and highly skinnable platform for these sites that would make creating them simpler and quicker. Then we developed a plan to incrementally build out this platform in stages as we created the sites for their three biggest awards shows – the Movie Awards, the VMAs and MTV2’s All That Rocks.
MTV Movie Awards (2006) With the 2006 Movie Awards, we established the foundation of the platform, including voting, videos, photo flipbooks, ringtones, news and polls. The basics of the visual skinning system were also in place, complete with animated backgrounds and transitions.
MTV Video Music Awards (2006) With the 2006 VMAs the pressure was on to expand the platform and to put it to the test. It was a big year because, for the first time ever, the audience could view, nominate and select VMA winners. In addition to supporting this user participation, we also created a new video playlist-builder and an archive of every video ever nominated for a Moonman.
The big investment in digital paid off. While broadcast television viewership dropped 28% to 5.8 million viewers, site traffic broke all previous records with over 10 million unique visitors and 3.9 million video streams.
MTV2 All That Rocks (2006)
MTV2’s All That Rocks awards show was the perfect excuse to put the final touches on the awards platform.
ATR was unique among the awards shows. MTV2 generated a set of categories ranging from rock stars to tech toys. Winners were determined entirely by popular vote. Not only could users vote, but they could also upload video “Shout Outs” to proclaim their love or disdain for nominees. Shout Outs were submitted by viewers and rock stars alike.
To further tap that rockstar style we conducted a photo shoot at New York’s legendary CBGB where the show was to be taped. Its general filthiness gives the site its attitude.
MTV Remixer (2007) Some recent successes with user-generated content encouraged MTV to explore the interactive possibilities of video. The result was a collaboration between Adobe, MTV, and Odopod to create an online tool that would let fans remix the latest music videos with the MTV Remixer.
We customized Adobe’s soon-to-be-released Remixer platform – designing a slick user-interface with the feel of a pro-video mixing booth. Then we gave our aspiring directors everything they needed to get all Spike Jonze: poppy transitions, animated effects and hot graphics customized for each artist – from lush palm trees for Nelly Furtado to shiny grills for T.I.
Finally, we built a community site to showcase these productions and to enable aspiring auteurs to rate and comment on one another’s creations, turning an audience of video-watchers into a community of creators.
MTV Video Music Awards Feed Widget (2007) When the VMAs rolled around again Odopod was asked to conceive a new interactive experience that combined the very new micro-blogging phenomenon of Twitter with the star power of the VMAs.
We created the VMA Feed Widget. It was an embeddable widget that brought together celebrity Twitter feeds and mobile photo uploads with MTV’s own news feeds, events announcements, photos and videos. It was the pulse of the VMAs. It was all made more accessible with two modes of navigation: time or topics.
MTV You-R-Here (2007)
MTVs move into user-generated content reached a crescendo when they asked Odopod to help them create You-R-Here, a citizen journalism site that turns fans into aspiring reporters and paparazzi. You-R-Here is a new type of creative community where anyone with a mobile phone can upload photos, videos and text of stars they see on the street or stage. And like any successful online community, all items can all be rated, commented upon and shared by fans.
mtvU Campus Guide (2008) Nowhere was the push into digital more important than for mtvU, MTVs 24-hour college network. In 2007, the company acquired the College Media Network, a network of 600 online campus newspapers with the hope of getting a digital foothold on campus.
Our assignment was to help shape the strategy for this new online property that would combine CMN’s presence on campus with mtvU’s programming.
The result was the Campus Daily Guides platform: a system for publishing and managing a set of hyper-local sites featuring campus news and listings for nightlife, restaurants, and movies along with original mtvU programming. The service launched on 50 campuses in 2008, with plans for expansion in 2009 – creating a new vehicle for targeted advertising to the college audience.
In addition to new revenue streams the Campus Guides also brought some industry attention to mtvU. The site swept both the Webby Award and the People’s Voice Award in the 2009 Webby Awards School/University category.