MTV Networks Europe Unveils New Global Campaign

CANNES Brent Hansen, president and chief executive of MTV Networks Europe, unveiled a new global campaign that represents “art for art’s sake” at an afternoon seminar today titled “MTV: Create to Innovate in Media” at the 50th International Advertising Festival.

“We want to re-introduce the idea of art… to allow our air to be the place where creativity can live,” said Hansen.

Breaking this week on MTV channels around the world, the 16-spot campaign was inspired by a 1930s surrealist game called “Exquisite Corpse,” the title of the new effort. In the old parlor game, participants would write a phrase on a sheet of paper and pass it along to the next player, who would then add to it and pass it on, revealing only the most recent contribution to the next player. It was an exploration of accidental art, with the final results then translated into a drawing.

The campaign, said Hansen, was produced in a similar fashion, with creative departments from 30 of its 38 channels around the world viewing the latest visual in the chain, adding three seconds of material and passing it on to the next via the Internet.

The result is a collage of images and moments, or as Hansen described it, “chaos and beauty coming together.” One spot, for instance, starts with a shot of a fish and then cuts to an image of an Asian woman, followed by a close-up of an eye, which morphs into an animated character and then, flowers. Each concludes with the MTV logo.

“No one had any idea what the end product would look like,” said Hanson, who in April was named president of creative of MTV Networks International, a newly created post. “You’ve got to have some time when you experiment like that. Failure was an option but that adds an edge to the game.”

Eliciting participation from local players, the endeavor also helps the network build a global creative community. “It’s important to challenge people and allow them to do stuff which has nothing to do with the commercial side of the business,” said Hansen, a native New Zealander, who currently resides in London. “It allows people to experiment, think out of the box and also create a relationship with each other.”

The idea for the campaign came out of MTV Latin America, which has entered its “I Once Saw MTV” campaign, from La Comunidad’s Buenos Aires and Miami offices, into the film competition here. The five-spot series shows the impact MTV can have on a viewer: an old man farts a Britney Spears tune; a boy watching MTV quickly changes it to porn when his mom walks into his room; a baby breast-feeding reaches over to play with his mother’s free breast. “It’s gotten a massive amount of attention,” said Hansen.

Originally created for the Mexican market, the campaign has been picked up by other channels in Latin American and European territories and is also being considered for the U.S.