PSAs Focused on Ferguson Air During MTV Video Music Awards

They're part of the network's Look Different campaign.

MTV’s Look Different campaign aired PSAs last night during the VMAs, clips that MTV president Stephen Friedman says could open the door for conversation about racism and the protests in Ferguson, MO.

“Eighty percent of our audience believes that bias is at the root of racism and prejudice… Ironically, part of the problem is that this generation was taught to be color-blind,” he told The Washington Post. “As a result, they feel like they’re going to step on a land mine if they say the wrong thing. In fact, our research has shown that fully 70 percent of our white audience grew up not talking about race in their households. They’re striving for fairness and equality and often just aren’t sure how to to proceed.”

The Look Different campaign was created with help from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, the National Council of La Raza and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The campaign’s website has been turned over to a discussion of what racial stereotypes are, why they matter and what readers can do to counter them, including hashtagging #goodlook and #notagoodlook to reinforce good behavior and discourage bad. A separate Tumblr account offers quotes and other details about what people are saying about the Mike Brown shooting.

The clips are short enough to resemble Vine or Instagram videos. From a PR point of view, the campaign really does seem organized in a way that relates to the millennial audience it’s meant to target. Moreover, the layout is clear enough for the message to come through step by step, with different pages for different lessons, activities and discussions.

Strangely, The Washington Post also frames this effort in contrast to the Miley Cyrus performance last year, which led to discussions about cultural appropriation. The two things really don’t have anything to do with one another and we don’t see anything in the campaign that would suggest that. And that’s a good thing.