MTV’s Latest ‘Switch’ Goes Live

NEW YORK MTV Networks International is rolling out a new “MTV Switch” initiative, a public service campaign that calls on the network’s global audience to take part in the fight against global warming.

Ten PSAs and short films (five of each) from a consortium of creative agencies were distributed to the network’s 165 TV channels last week.


The PSAs were fashioned by Amsterdam, the Netherlands-based agencies 180 and Selmore, in collaboration with production company Cake, also in Amsterdam, and the ecopop boutique in Los Angeles. Element Partnership, a London-based nonprofit production company, created the short films.

The work strives to address environmental issues in a way that prompts action via entertainment rather than promoting fear, said John Jackson, director of social responsibility at MTV, which first introduced the “Switch” campaign last June with spots that showed how to make a difference by taking small actions.

“MTV wants to tackle the issue of the environment in a way that provokes thought and engages the audience,” said Jackson. “We wanted to show opportunities for change. What are the things that you could be doing rather than the things that you shouldn’t be doing.”

The spots showcase a range of styles and approaches. They include:

— 180’s tongue-in-cheek animated clip about “False Greens, with an animated character encouraging viewers to consider the color’s true and deeper meaning.
— Selmore and Cake’s live-action spot showing kids reenacting a video game rather than playing it in order to prompt young people to think about ways to entertain themselves without using energy.
— Ecopop’s “Connected,” which rhythmically connects imagery such as Greenland’s ice caps and consumer-generated waste to a broader ecological message.
— Element’s short films, “The Element Climate Change Series,” telling the stories of five young people who are making a difference, such as Marsha, who won the Australian Young Designer of the Year Award for creating a bio-plastic molded car that is nearly fossil-fuel free.

The PSAs have the potential to reach an audience of 560 million 15- to 25-year-old viewers in 162 countries, said Johnson.

As part of the “Switch” effort, MTV is also prepping its second long-form show about the Young Lions Film Competition at the 2008 International Advertising Festival at Cannes, a contest in which creative teams created viral spots for the “Switch” campaign using Nokia mobile phones. The half-hour documentary, which was titled “Short Film Shootout: Cannes” last year, is expected to run early next year.