MTV teams up with A$AP Rocky to help move the brand into an engaging creative space. They have signed Rocky to a 2-year deal in which he will devise original concepts, experiment with programming and various pieces of MTV intellectual property, and develop content for advertisers.
A$AP Rocky’s company AWGE will join forced with the brand creating MTV Labs which will serve as the ‘creative incubator’ unit. The partnership will allow for Rocky to create a number of projects that are developed over a period of time. Rocky had this to say:
“I think we need to get people more in tune with vignettes, video clips,” the musician said in an interview. “That’s really going to be my strong suit.”
Niels Schuurmans, executive vice president and chief creative officer of Viacom Velocity added:
“The end game is to, through this authentic voice, deepen our relationship with the audience,” said Schuurmans, in an interview. “We really want to work with him on the creation of franchises that could end up being hit franchises for MTV and hit franchises for our sponsors.”
MTV is being strategic in its approach. A$AP Rocky’s ideas and efforts won’t constitute the entirely of its content, but represent just one of its offerings. “It seems to me that if the celebrity curator is one ‘channel’ on a network, it can be very successful, especially if that celebrity has cultural, musical or creative heft,” said Brian Sheehan, a professor of advertising at Syracuse University. “If the celebrity is the core curator for a brand, it can be dangerous, because the brand is defaulting its core responsibility to curate its own content.”
A$AP Rocky expressed a strong interest in developing concepts for emerging video formats. “I feel like we live in a day and age where Snapchat, Instagram, the internet and all the 15-to-30-second video clips are running the world, and that’s all that matters,” he said. “It’s time to start exploring the minds of the young, the kids that come from backgrounds like me. If you put your mind to it, you can come up with some unorthodox methods to figure this s—t out.”
MTV executives had taken notice of the musician’s work, and admired his ability to bridge the worlds of music, video and fashion, said Schuurmans, the Viacom executive. After following Rocky on Instagram, Schuurmans noticed he had made multiple references to legacy MTV properties, such as “House of Style” and “Yo! MTV Raps.” A decision was made to reach out. “We want to give him this open canvas to create,” he said, and identify possibilities. MTV might consult with A$AP Rocky after an advertiser describes a particular type of content it’s seeking, or work with the celebrity to turn an idea into a programming concept.
“He won’t be put into any box,” said Schuurmans. “He’s a disruptor.” MTV will count on his talents to help shake things up.