How MTV Plotted Its Emoji-Filled Announcement of ‘Scream’ Return

By Adam Flomenbaum 

Scream-4-244What’s your favorite scary movie? MTV hopes that the answer is ‘Scream.’

The network this week – Halloween week – skipped the standard press release in favor of Twitter and Snapchat to announce the return of ‘Scream’ as a TV series. The announcement was made with only emojis and showed a woman being hunted and slashed, ending with the scream-face emoji, the @mtvscream Twitter handle, and a phone number. The number was real, and when fans called they were “greeted” by a recording in the style of the classic conception of a killer announcing that ‘Scream” would be coming to MTV in October 2015. On Snapchat, fans were sent the scream-face emoji along with the same number.

In less than 24-hours, the phone number was called more than 20,000 times. On Snapchat, the snap quickly became MTV’s most- screenshotted snap ever with over 30,000 screenshots and 250,000 views in 24 hours.


The stunt required months of planning and coordination between MTV’s communications, marketing, social and connected content teams. For more on the announcement, its execution, and its early results, we spoke with Colin Helms, SVP of Connected Content at MTV.

Lost Remote:  How did different departments at MTV work together on this announcement?

Colin Helms: It was truly collaborative between the communications, marketing, and connected content departments.  We knew we had a big announcement to make with a show that consumers and press have been waiting to hear about for years.  So we decided not to do just an original release.  With it being the week of Halloween, this announcement allowed us to come up with a way to target the press and the consumers at the same time and to do something scary and fun and really innovative.

LR: Why – of all new shows – did ‘Scream’ lend itself so well to this type of social announcement and promotion?

Helms: We often leverage some of our biggest new announcements to experiment in how we communicate directly with the audience.  Building upon the success of revealing the VMA nominations on Snapchat earlier this year, as well as our larger Twitter following, we saw a unique opportunity to bring ‘Scream’ into the socially driven world of today, while still playing upon the telephone iconography that helped define the original films.

LR: How will you gauge whether this announcement is successful? What will your team compare it to?

Helms: First and foremost, the campaign was successful in creatively spreading the word about the forthcoming premiere. In less than 24 hours, the phone number was called more than 20,000 times – definitely exceeding our expectations. Perhaps even more impressive, on Snapchat, the snap quickly became MTV’s most-screenshotted snap ever with over 30,000 screenshots and 250,000 views in the first 24 hours. Additionally, dozens of outlets highlighted the news, with many giving a thumbs up to how we leveraged social to turn a relatively simple announcement into an event.

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