Ad of the Day: Things Get Sublimely Surreal as MTV Tries to Define What It Stands for Today

The network is everything and nothing. And eye monsters

Headshot of David Griner

Ask any Gen Xer about MTV, and you're almost certainly in for a gripefest about how "In my day, it stood for Music Television!"

Now, the cable network, once known just for music videos and the occasional Colin Quinn game show, is meeting such criticism head-on with a self-aware brand spot that revels in the many-tendriled, amorphous pop-culture amalgam that is today's MTV.

"MTV is the marriage of the biological and the digital, a perfect combination of soundwaves, particles and lust," the hypnotic and unabshedly surreal new ad explains. "MTV is a series of letters that used to stand for words. In the future, we don't use the word 'future,' and MTV isn't not the future."

Even the meta title of the ad, "Tagline Here," celebrates the fact that MTV's content and programming priorities are so flexible with the times, its brand identity almost isn't worth trying to pin down. 

So, while you might walk away from the ad (which debuted on Sunday's Video Music Awards but only hit YouTube on Tuesday) still wondering what the hell the network is up to these days, you have to applaud its willingness to admit that even MTV is incapable of defining MTV. 


Agency: MTV

Director: Benjamin Dickinson

Production Company: Ghost Robot

Editor: Josh Rathmell

Image Research and Licensing: Stalkr

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: September 1, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT