NEW GEN Z 101: Unlock & Outlast Microtrends
Mar 19 2013
This is the week. The week where teens and Millennials nation-wide have a week off from google docs, dropbox-ing, wikipedia-ing, and all-night crash study sessions. For college and high school students, the end of March is synonymous with two words: Spring Break! And we’ll be here covering it from all angles. We’ll hear from American screenwriter and novelist, Kirsten Smith, responsible for teen hit sensations like 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde. We’ll also hear from one of our YAB members, Nathan who resides in the Bahamas, on how this American ritual is expressed in his hometown. Finally, we will also be revieiwng the movie sensation, Spring Breakers.
Today, we have an exciting interview with Noopur Agarwal, VP at MTV Public Affairs. We had the chance to talk to her about MTV’s newest Spring Break initiative, “Spring Fix”.
Partnering with United Way and mtvU, MTV is hosting “Spring Fix,” an alternative to the traditions of spring break in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. MTV will bring 50 college students to the New York / New Jersey area to help rebuild communities devastated by the storm. “Spring Fix” will take place from 3/17 – 3/23, and include a special free concert at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey featuring Ne-Yo. MTV cameras will be on the ground capturing all the “Spring Fix” activities, and the network expects celebrities, politicians and more to stop in and take part.
Spring Fix seems like such a great initiative, can you tell us how this campaign came about? Can you also tell us a little bit about your partnership with United Way and how that came to fruition?
Following Hurricane Sandy, MTV hosted an hour-long fundraising special, “Restore the Shore,” featuring dozens of stars, artists and organizations committed to raising desperately needed aid to help rebuild Seaside Heights, the heart of the Jersey Shore.
MTV has a longstanding relationship with United Way, and we’re thrilled to work with them on Spring Fix. In 2006, we partnered with them to host the first ever United Way Alternative Spring Break, with students from around the country trading the typical beach parties and nights out to go to communities in the Gulf Coast to help with long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina.
Generally, the first thing one thinks of when they hear ‘MTV Spring Break’ is of course, the crazy shows that used to air back in the early 2000’s from Cancun. Nowadays, it feels like this is changing a bit. We’ve noticed that younger Millennials and post-Millennials have an “if you break it, you fix it” mentality, which is why we thought your new program was spot on. How is MTV reconciling this emerging “fix it” need and why do you think this is happening now?
The Millennial generation has grown up in time where they face unprecedented challenges, from staggering unemployment and student loan debt to accelerating climate change and global poverty. But nowadays, you don’t have to be a news network, a magazine or somebody famous to spread ideas and activate others. All you need is a social media account and a smart idea. This access to digital tools has given Millennials tremendous power to make a difference and we see them using this power every day.
Spring Fix is just a way for young people to take this inherent desire to serve a step further and actually get their hands dirty. They didn’t “break it” but we can tell by the flood of applications we received that they certainly want to “fix it” and we’re proud to work with them to make that possible.
That said, a Spring Break getaway to Cancun or Vegas or South Florida is still a timeless rite of passage for countless college students, and we’ll continue to be a part of those celebrations, too.
I noticed you chose 50 students to participate in Spring Fix. What was the application process like? What were some things that you looked out for when deciding on the final fixers?
The application consisted of numerous questions aimed at helping us understand the applicants’ background, prior community service experience and reasons for applying. In choosing the final 50 students, we wanted to ensure we had a diverse mix of perspectives and a group that was truly passionate about this service opportunity.
What other ways is MTV changing to reflect the next generation of Spring Breakers?
MTV is committed to always finding new ways to empower our audience on the issues that impact them most. In 2012, MTV reinvented its youth voter empowerment campaign, “Power of 12,” which engaged millions of young people and helped contribute to Millennials growing as a share of the electorate. We’ll also be rolling out new initiatives this year that will continue to support our audience in making smart decisions about their sexual health, stopping digital abuse and finding extra financial aid — so they can complete college.
Additionally, the network’s college channel, mtvU, is finding innovative ways to connect with its audience on the issue of human trafficking through an ongoing campaign called Against Our Will. As part of the campaign, mtvU recently launched The Backstory, an interactive video experience that illuminates the backstories of human trafficking survivors and empowers users to take action to end this human rights atrocity. The project was inspired by four James Madison University students’ winning entry for the “Against Our Will Challenge,” which called on college students from around the country to submit ideas for an innovative digital tool to raise awareness of modern-day slavery.
These are only a few examples of how MTV is reflecting the concerns of this generation and empowering them to overcome some of their biggest challenges. We’ll be announcing more initiatives for MTV and mtvU later this year.
Where do you see the future of “Spring Break” going?
Spring Break is an important MTV tradition. Whether it’s highlighting the music, fun and energy that exemplify this generation or their innate desire to give back, MTV will always be at the forefront of Spring Break, reflecting our audience and what they are most passionate about.
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