MTV Combats ‘Sucky’ Relationships

NEW YORK What’s the best way to tell someone that they’re dating a “sucky” person?

If things go independent Bradley & Montgomery’s way, high-school girls will be doing it with short clips from season two of MTV’s serial reality drama, The Hills. The snippets show series characters Lauren, Heidi and others saying just that sort of thing. The shorts, which promote the show’s release on DVD, were uploaded to YouTube last Friday.

In “Sucky Person,” Lauren and Heidi have a heated conversation about someone named Spencer, who appears to have done something not so nice. As Lauren becomes more agitated, she says, “He’s a sucky person” over and over. The words “You need to know” appear at the top of the clip, followed by “He’s a sucky person” on the bottom.

“We tried to figure out what the target audience, women ages 12-24, liked about it. They traded characters, quotes and scenes and talked in that language,” said Ben Carlson, chief strategy officer at Bradley in Indianapolis. “It’s the same way their older sister would have used Sex and the City and their dad would have used Caddyshack.”

The Hills spun off from Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, and follows Lauren Conrad and her friends as they try to make it in the world. It is one of MTV’s highest rated shows and has spawned The Hills After-Show on and The Virtual Hills, a Second Life-styled interactive experience.

To find the right clips, the agency reviews the show for high-drama moments that could encapsulate a sentiment. In addition to telling someone her partner is “sucky,” the 12 clips illustrate topics such as “I don’t have time for your drama, I’m busy busy” and “Breaking up is hard, but you’re still the star of the show.”

“We had a litmus test for picking scenes to use: Is there a sentiment that can be delivered from one person to another, and is it an iconic moment from the show,” said Carlson.

Bradley & Montgomery even came up with a name for the video greetings, “EmotiClips.”

By tapping into fans’ favorite memories of the show, the hope is the clips will be passed around and be able to stand on their own as greeting cards that just happen to be selling something. “If you receive this from a show, its social currency. It reminds you that you loved it and it reminds you that it’s available on DVD. If you get it and you’ve never seen the show, you want to know what the hell am I being shown,” said Carlson.