MTV is embracing change.
In nearly three decades on the air, almost everything about the cable network — from its programming, to its focus, to its place in popular culture — has changed with the times, except for its famous tagline, “Music television.”
Recently, the network quietly unveiled a new logo which has dropped the tagline entirely, indicating that MTV itself is leaving its original mission of an all-music channel in the dust.
The new logo is meant to put the focus on MTV’s current slate of talent — the stars of mostly reality shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Teen Mom,” and “The Buried Life.” Since the logo (which seems to have a shorter “M” than the original) is also available in a see-through model, it can change when new stars come into the fold. Tina Exarhos, a spokesperson for MTV’s marketing team, explained the change to “The New York Daily News”: “If you watch the channel, you’ve seen that it’s definitely going in a new direction. We really wanted to see the logo featured in a new way, and this was really meant to be able to house all the great things that are happening at MTV at any given time.”
When MTV first revolutionized television in 1981, it was based on the idea of one network devoted entirely to music, a central hub where fans could watch music videos, see interviews with their favorite recording artists, and even get their news from a music fan’s point of view. The channel was also a valuable promotional tool for the music industry itself, which no longer had to depend mainly on radio to get its product on an audience’s radar. But over the years, MTV morphed into a channel that focused less on any one theme and more on targeting a specific teen and young-adult audience, ditching its music roots to deliver whatever the network perceived that audience wanted.
And, clearly, that audience is more into shows like “Jersey Shore” than old-school music video blocks like “120 Minutes.”
“The MTV brand, to me, stands for such an irreverent groundbreaking brand, and unfortunately I feel a little underwhelmed when I look at this,” Hamish McLennan, global chairman-CEO of advertising powerhouse Young & Rubicam, told Ad Age.