MTV plays up politics at upfront blurb pitch

MTV promised it’s not going to become “‘Nightline’ with a soundtrack” but it did play its newly discovered political influence to the hilt in its upfront presentation at the New York Public Library Wednesday.

An opening video pitch focused heavily on 1992’s Choose or Lose voter campaign and on President Bill Clinton’s use of MTV during and after the campaign.

By going on MTV, Clinton “was making a statement,” said Tom Freston, president of MTV. “MTV is about music, but it transcends music now.”

To further emphasize the point that MTV reaches viewers that no one else does , Harvey Ganot, executive VP of advertising and promotion sales, told the crowd that a Democratic senator came to MTV last week to ask for the network’s help in selling the forthcoming health care package.

Sarah Levinson, exec VP of MTV, discussed entertainment, saying that in both music and non-music programming, MTV would “embrace the diversity” that is coming with increasing “segmentation”: New music shows include “Alternative Nation,” an alternative music show; non-music shows include “Real World 2,” set in Southern California, the heavy metal cartoon “Beavis & Butthead” and “Comikaze,” a comedy show featuring snippets of stand-up performances, sketches and comic footage.

Ganot played up MTV’s dedication to the 12-34 crowd. MTV, Ganot said, has the loyalty of “the hard-to-reach consumer — they are upscale, they are big spenders … they are just forming brand loyalties.” He added that MTV’s credibility with this generation extends to MTV advertisers: “It’s like you’re joining their club.”

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