MTV Networks, a Viacom Company
2006 AIGA CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Recognized for creating influential television networks—MTV, Vh1, TV Land, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon—which use design to communicate added value, assuming a role in the industry as design leaders, and producing brands known to the world over as cultural icons.
To truly experience the scope of the massive one hundred and thirty-one channel family of MTV Networks, simply examine the lifetime viewing habits of the average television enthusiast. You begin with children's networks Noggin and Nickelodeon—a carefully crafted blend of education and entertainment. Later, MTV or one of its ilk—MTV2, MTV Hits or MTV Jams—will lure you toward the grown-up channels. You then graduate to the pop-culture celebration that is Vh1 or the cutting-edge satire of Comedy Central. You could spend decades on Vh1 Classic, Spike TV, CMT, Logo, Tr3s, MTV Chi, and MTV Desi. International channels are on every continent, in more than 140 languages, in 171 countries. And waiting for you in your golden years is the nostalgia-soaked programming of TV Land. Every day, around the world, to every kind of audience, MTV Networks is one of the most influential visual communicators in history.
Responsible for launching and promoting this cavalcade of brands, identities, characters, personalities, and artists, MTV Networks embraced the value of great design; and throughout its 25 years, it also became one of design's greatest champions. Consistently distinctive and technologically groundbreaking, the MTV look is young, smart, stimulating, and sometimes even controversial. MTV Networks has achieved all of this by nurturing the brightest up-and-coming voices in design—a tradition that began when MTV was originally branded in 1981. Producers went with the a tradition of nurturing the underdogs—Pat Gorman, Frank Olinsky and Patti Rogoff of Manhattan Design—who created a dripping-graffiti logo in 1981 which has remained, for the most part, untouched for 25 years. It is one of the most recognized images in the world. The branding of both Nickelodeon and VH1 followed suit, with Nick's iconic bright orange splat, which can morph into appropriate shapes as needed; and Vh1's evolution from the giant 1 of “Music First” days to the 3D box logo that holds more than just videos.
MTV Networks has maintained a remarkable roster of designers from around the world, as well as in its own impressive in-house creative departments, who crank out work on a dizzying array of brands. MTV Networks' promos, from the first “I want my MTV”'s starring screeching '80s rockers, to the animated choreography of Nick's characters, to the quirky interstitials of Vh1, have always driven the evolution—and tested the boundaries—of the 30-second form. The high-concept, graphically rich spots are created by some of the world's best directors, motion designers and animators. They are consistently awarded by industry shows for their inventiveness, have been published in hundreds of books and featured in museum exhibitions. Remarkably, the branding of MTV Networks has even transcended the airwaves, with awards-show graphics, logos and original artwork by its designers appearing as merchandise in a street-level retail store in Times Square.
The MTV Networks family continues to create content that transcends mediums, providing industry leadership and creative opportunities. By providing a mainstream market for music videos, MTV Networks fueled the formative years in the development of contemporary motion graphics, animation and visual effects. Animation also evolved under MTV Networks' watch, from the MTV show “Liquid Television” where cult-to-mainstream classics like Mike Judge's “Beavis and Butthead” were born, to Comedy Central's revolution in cut-paper animation, “South Park.” The tweaking of genres in traditional programming early on originated widely replicated formats: reality TV from “The Real World,” postmodernist viewing like “Pop Up Video” and the venerable fake news of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” The MTV Films division makes movies that range from pop smashes Napoleon Dynamite and Team America: World Police to Oscar-winning Hustle & Flow and Election. The Nickelodeon brand is a lifestyle, including thousands of products, movies, a magazine, and even a resort and hotel in Florida. The brands rule the internet, with MTV's Overdrive, Nickelodeon's TurboNick and Comedy Central's MotherLode as exemplary sites of streaming broadband video, music, news and web-only animated shorts that are redefining the roles of interactivity and social networking. MTV Networks also owns Neopets, the Gametrailers.com and Xfire casual gaming sites, and Atom Entertainment and iFilm (the thinking man's YouTube).
When MTV introduced itself to the world on August 1, 1981, the premiere, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” became firmly embedded in pop culture lore. While the song was simply a cheeky nod to the combination of music + video + television, it later became clear that MTV was declaring a revolution in consumer media. And for each subsequent revolution (digital kills video, internet kills television), MTV is right there again. With every new logo, every new promo, every new brand, MTV Networks' creative vision continues to evolve, each incantation more compelling than the last. In fact, we can't take our eyes off it.