Social media case study: MTV ‘green screens’ gets fans to complete its VMA ads

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Ahead of the 2015 “MTV Video Music Awards”, MTV called upon all its own fans to create billboard ads to promote the show- with a little help from a green screen Miley Cyrus.

Case study summary

• MTV enlists its own fans to “finish” its ads with ‘green screen’ templates

• Users could use videos featuring Miley Cyrus Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift to add star appeal

• Content could be submitted via social media

• Got 64 million interactions on Instagram and an overall reach of 122 billion total impressions

The challenge

How does an established broadcaster stay relevant in a fast changing music industry? To reignite interest in its biggest awards show of the year, MTV wanted to attract creative and web savvy millennials with an innovative new campaign. Working with agency Fallon, the brand decided to put the fans in control.

The solution

To generate hype, MTV released several mysterious green screen ads that popped up on social media, TV and billboards. Fans now have the chance to get creative and design their very own versions of the ads.

A dedicated site on MTV’s official website let fans to download green-screen templates, billboards, backgrounds and a variety of stickers.

Furthermore, images and short videos of host Miley Cyrus and other nominees and performers such as Ed Sheeran, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift were also made available for download.

Next to either a MOV, PNG or a Photoshop file of the corresponding item, the download folder also contained a PDF file with detailed instructions on how to proceed creating and submitting the promo art. User-generated content could then either be submitted directly via the dedicated website or uploaded to Twitter or Instagram using #vmas.

All submissions were also featured on the campaign’s landing page. The content can be filtered by ‘Newest’, ‘Most Viewed’ or simply be ‘Randomized’.

Selected fan art versions will then replace the green screens and serve as the official promo art for two weeks prior to the live “MTV Video Music Awards” show in Los Angeles on August 30, 2015. The winner’s social media handles will also be promoted on the finished ads.

The results

"That shade of green is the universal internet symbol for 'come play with me'," Andrei Chahine, creative director for MTV, told Mashable. "Add to that the fact that we're swapping out all the green screens in all mediums for fan- and artist-made versions two weeks later, and that is a narrative we think will naturally lead people to [watch] the show itself."

The 2015 MTV VMA campaign achieved:

• 24 million VMA hashtags
• 541 million social media engagements
• 64 million interactions on Instagram
• A viral lift of 2005%
• An overall reach of 122 billion total impressions
• The 2015 VMAs became the most tweeted TV program in history

"The intent is also to promote the show's unique promise of the unexpected, the chaotic and the artistic," Chahine added. "The VMAs have a long history of creating cultural moments that no other award show would dare deliver. It's ruffled more than a few feathers, and that's because it’s very much an uncontrolled environment.

"Same goes for this campaign. We’re effectively relinquishing control, giving people full access to VMA artists and assets, and letting them make whatever they want in the name of artistic expression. If our campaign can communicate the spirit of 'What the hell will I see next?' then we think those eyeballs have a good chance of watching the show, too."

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