MTV launches digital abuse awareness campaign

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MTV launched "A Thin Line," an integrated campaign to stop the spread of digital abuse, which is defined by the network as "sexting," cyberbullying and digital dating abuse. The campaign, launched December 3, consists of PSAs, interactive tools and a contest called the “Redraw the Line Challenge.”

The contest, which partners with Blue Shield of California Foundation, calls on young people to submit online remedies to digital abuse. MTV also launched this week, where users can enter the contest and access information, resources and support on issues related to digital abuse.

The campaign launched on December 3 to coincide with partner Liz Claiborne's “It's Time to Talk Day,” an annual effort to raise national attention about domestic violence, including teen dating violence and intimate partner abuse.

“We want to communicate that this is going to be an issue for young people from this point on,” said Jason Rzepka, VP of public affairs for MTV Networks. “We see this becoming one of MTV's core group of issues.”

The campaign was developed in-house, with the exception of the Web site, which agency Highly Evolved created.

Rzepka said the main target audience is consumers ages 14 to 18, as well as adults in their 20s.

“We've found that high schools are where the fire is burning the hottest when it comes to this issue,” he said.

Mobile users can access the campaign resources by texting “line” to 66333. The campaign also has a presence on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, where the network hopes the PSAs will spread virally. In terms of retargeting, Rzepka said that MTV “won't force feed” its audience, but “if they're interested, we can say ‘here are other offers.'” The PSAs drive viewers back to the microsite.

While users do need to disclose e-mail addresses and other contact information to enter the contest, Rzepka said MTV is more focused on engagement than database or e-mail list growth.

“But if we can continue to get that information and continue to have a relationship with the audience, that's great. It's not a primary objective, but it's beneficial,” he said. “We may at some point introduce a newsletter program.”

MySpace and Facebook have donated ad space to promote the contest.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press and MTV released research that found 50% of 14-to-24-year-olds have experienced digital abuse, and 30% have sent or received a nude picture text message or online file.

In addition, MTV is addressing the issue through on-air content. These include an MTV News special on sexting that will air around Valentine's Day and an episode of the documentary series True Life entitled “I Have Digital Drama,” which is set to air in March or April, according to Rzepka.

“The social and online components will definitely drive traffic, but the real jet fuel is going to be the on-air exposure,” he explained. “We reach screens in 90 million homes, so we'll definitely use the power of that screen to engage viewers.”

MTV's partners on “A Thin Line” include Facebook, MySpace, The Family Violence Prevention Fund, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.

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