NEW YORK: MTV employed an intentionally cryptic viral campaign for its Super Bowl-halftime relaunch of sister channel MTV2.
Originally launched in 1996, MTV2 is changing its format from a broader music video and entertainment channel to one that focuses on hip-hop and new rock subgenres embraced by the 12-24 demographic.
Viral advertising and marketing agency AsaBailey was behind the ads, which centered on a "two-headed dog" that symbolized the network's new rock/hip-hop approach. The agency was brought into the campaign by creative firm Night Agency after the music channel determined its strategy.
"The main crux of our brief was to build the underground interest of the identity change," Bailey said. "We [were charged with] building the buzz campaign and the awareness with the viral teaser campaign."
AsaBailey has done similar campaigns for companies like EA Sports and K-Y Jelly.
MTV2 did not do any media outreach regarding the viral campaign, as its involvement in the project was under wraps, but gave the Associated Press an exclusive about the company's programming change, according to Graham James, director of communications for MTV and MTV2.
Many media outlets, including CNN, USA Today, Billboard, and the Boston Globe ran the AP story covering the re-launch.
The network is now pitching long-lead magazines as it continues to debut new features.
"The project is ongoing, and we're reaching out to the publications that cover the younger demographics to tell the MTV2 story in a targeted way," James said.
The viral ad included bizarre music videos, a section that allowed users to upload images based on a two-headed dog logo, and two video games.
According to Bailey, the site went live on January 12. In less than a month, the site had at least 10 million unique users who interacted in some way with the programming.
"We launched it without saying who it was for," Bailey said, adding that they didn't claim anything and, therefore, weren't dishonest.
But marketing blog AdRants reported that a well-connected source tipped it off the day before the official launch.
James said that some people figured out that MTV2 was behind it, but that the revelation didn't change its plans.
MTV will consider using more viral campaigns as it continues to roll out new features on its sister channel.
"This two-headed dog one was really successful, as there was a lot of buzz out there and we saw a ton of traffic," James said, adding that he heard people thinking the company behind the ad was everything from Spike TV to an apparel company. "It was fun and in the spirit of the MTV2 and what the audience comes to expect [from us]."
"It was definitely a success and served its purpose: getting people excited about the channel," James said.