MTV – The Change and Difference in Their Brand Equity

An analysis I wrote for my brand management course together with Remo Herzog, Delia Pindei and Lisa van der Zweep in 2010.
Part 1/4: Their Brand Image 

mtv brand equity

Part 2/4 – MTV: The Change and Difference in Their Brand Equity

The current sources of MTV’s brand equity are: a strong brand awareness and salience all over the world, a well-defined brand attitude and the loyalty of the viewers. Over the years, MTV has built a powerful brand that has become known worldwide: in 2005 the channel was consumed in over 421 million households in 167 countries. MTV created a musical culture for young people; the channel promoted new pop-artists and their videos and it is considered to have an impact not only on music, but on television as well.

Since the establishment of MTV its sources of brand equity have changed from just a music channel to an educating and information channel. In general, MTV managed to reinvent itself. Furthermore in the period of 1995-2001 MTV reduced the number of the music videos and adopted a different format: the “long-form” programming. The success of shows like “Beavis and Butthead” , “The Osbornes”, “Pimp my ride”, “Punk’d” increased the loyalty of its teenagers viewers and also attracted an older audience.

When considering the promotion of music stars and their videos, the sources of brand equity remained constant. From the beginning on, MTV tried to create a unique brand identity by showing videos that where accompanied by VJ introductions and station promotions. Bob Pitman, co-founder and original programming chief, set the first attempts to built the MTV Networks brand : “The concept I had was to have a clear image, to build an attitude. In other words, to build a brand” . In 1982 MTV began a campaign to raise the brand awareness. Famous rock stars like Mick Jagger, David Bowie and others promoted the channel by using the phrase ”I want my MTV”. The advertising campaign raised the awareness from 20 percent to 89 percent. In 1984 MTV was awarded by the National Association of Record Manufactures with its Presidential Award in recognition of the channel’s role. This all resulted in the merger of MTV by Viacom. In 1985 Viacom bought MTV for $525 million, because of its established brand equity. In the following years, MTV continued to build his brand name. The brand became so popular that the Video Music Awards had an audience of 10.3 million in 2004. MTV has also expanded into several sister channels.

The main reason for MTV Networks to create sister channels is the differentiation of their broadcast. This brand strategy was introduced after MTV started to broadcast on an international scale. In the beginning years of international broadcasting, many of MTV’s competitors took advantage of the fact that MTV had an undifferentiated broadcast. As MTV concentrated mainly on teen pop programming, the channel was unable to connect with a large part of the audience. For example, males and older individuals didn’t find any connection with MTV. MTV Networks thus decided to create sister channels to reconnect with these viewers. In general, the sister channels of MTV can be considered as non-music channels.

Each of these sister channels has their own target public that they try to reach with their programming and advertising. The positioning of MTV, within this network of sister channels, is that MTV has always been the music channel. The main focus of the channel still lies on new music videos, music news and reality TV. The target public of MTV remains a younger public that is interested in pop music, while the sister channels try to differentiate in the target public. They try to reach out to different parts of the target public of MTV Networks.

The strategy of MTV Networks to create sister channels to broaden their audience is the right strategy for this brand. They are operated by the same company but because of the different formats they can reach out to many viewers. Next to this, people will also affiliate the sister channels with the main company, in this case MTV Networks. This enhances the brand awareness and brand salience of MTV Networks as people are confronted with the brand more often. The concepts of brand awareness and brand salience are important when setting a strong brand. A strong brand awareness can provide a competitive advantage and the enhancement of brand salience is important because the need for a certain program occurs. The brand is familiar and viewers will associate the brand with a certain situation. The MTV Network brand portfolio consists of MTV together with all the sister channels. MTV could optimize their brand portfolio with trying to reach out to an older public such as our grandparents. They could try to set up a new sister channel that focuses on hits of the old days. 

Nowadays MTV networks is launched into 167 countries and adapted to different musical tastes and cultures. MTV managed to create brand resonance on both global and national levels by combining the international music hits with local ones. The channel also understood the importance of using the national languages instead of English to present the shows. MTV succeeded to think globally and act locally.

One example of this global approach but local acting can be seen in MTV Romania which was launched in 2002. The channel has the Romanian version of Total Request Live, Hit List Romania and Dance Floor Chart and other TV shows like “The Osbornes”, “Pimp my Ride” with Romanian translations. The charts are presented by Romanian VJ’s and include both international and local music. One of the main reasons how MTV manage to engage brand resonance in Romania was the fact that artists known worldwide are competing in the same charts with Romanian artists. The videos alternate as well so that viewers can watch both their national and international artists. The big challenge for MTV Romania is the competition with other local music channels, like UTV a local Romanian music channel.

While MTV has the advantage of being a global well-known brand, UTV plays more local music videos and has its own shows. Furthermore the channel is more focused with the national music trend and has charts only for Romanian music. Still MTV remains the number one music channel and has the biggest audience. This fact is due on one hand to its strong brand name and original concepts and on the other hand to the fact that MTV is promoting in the same time both domestic and foreign artists.

MTV Romania Music Awards have been held since 2002 and it is the most important event in the Romanian music industry. The show is hosted by Romanian artists and has special guest from abroad. Although the show is an original idea of MTV brand it managed to became a symbol of the Romanian music industry. For this reason in 2008 changed its name in Romanian Music Awards.

[pic: CC-BY-NC-SA, Tyello]

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Josef Ohlsson Collentine

A transparent and kind American/Swede who likes cultural patterns and Social Media. A creative early-adopter who sports, discusses and explores. More about me
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