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MTV to Viewers: It's OK to Ignore Us to Watch World Cup

International Campaign Highlights Obsessive Fan Behavior

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NEW YORK ( -- What happens to other broadcasters while up to half the world's audience spends a month watching the World Cup soccer games? If you're MTV, you do an ironic international campaign that highlights obsessive fan behavior and says, "We understand why you aren't watching MTV."

"It's the anti-World Cup campaign," said Jose Molla, founder and creative director of MTV's international agency, La Comunidad, Miami. In the first of three spots breaking next week, a Russian youth sits in front of his TV eating canned dog food to win a trip to the World Cup in South Africa. His sister points out he can enter the sweepstakes without actually eating the dog food. The spot ends with the voice-over: "We understand why you sign up for those promos, and why you're not watching MTV."

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"As a brand that really targets 18- to 24-year-olds, we need to talk about the World Cup, and we wanted to acknowledge that it's going on," said Sean Saylor, VP-creative for MTV Networks International. Mr. Saylor, who grew up in Argentina and is a big soccer fan, had the idea of doing a World Cup-related image campaign. "We don't have any content that relates to soccer. [The campaign] really talks about who we are as a brand."

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The first spot "Shto," which means "What?" in Russian, is filmed in Russian, with subtitles adapted for the country the spot is airing in. A second spot, called "Spooky," is filmed in Spanish, and depicts a giant hamster who attacks his disheveled World Cup-watching owner with a chainsaw and berates him for forgetting to feed him for weeks. He demands a pizza be delivered to his tiny cage immediately. MTV is more understanding: "We understand why you're not feeding Spooky, and why you're not watching MTV."

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The third spot, filmed in Korean with subtitles, touches on another aspect of fan behavior: a belief in the power of lucky charms. A lethal insect appears as two Korean fans watch a World Cup match. One wants to kill the dangerous bug and the other refuses because the bug brings good luck. As they argue, the bug turns them both into slimy snails, but their team scores a goal, so it turns out to be lucky after all.

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"It's interesting to do a campaign for a brand that has nothing to do with soccer, and has never sponsored any soccer team," said Jose Molla. "It's such a huge event around the world, and people get so passionate about it, that's it's good for MTV to address this incredible moment, in an ironic way. It shows how people get totally into the World Cup, but from a different angle."

The spots will run on MTV channels outside the U.S.

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