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Special Project

Special Project
From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards


Finalist in Brand Identity

About this entry

TRL holds an iconic place in pop culture; before the rise of the internet and social media, MTV's flagship daily live series was the epicenter of everything hot and rising in music and beyond. To present TRL to a new and wired generation opened up several exciting opportunities, but our prime objectives were two-fold. First, we needed to expand from a simple linear show to an always-on, multi-platform experience, connecting with our audience with highly customized content for every app and every screen. Additionally, we needed to meaningfully speak the language of our fans, presenting them with content they crave from the celebrities they love and creating a one-of-a-kind brand experience that reflects and amplifies their voices and passions in the same manner we always have.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

In observing the social strategies of other music and culture brands, we noticed a significant separation between the language brands used and the language their followers used. In aiming to highlight TRL's legacy of representing young people, our social voice became quite literally a reflection of our audience. Internally, our social team created the identity of the mysterious young woman who runs the TRL accounts, from her name, age and location, to her likes, dislikes and—most importantly—her obsessive passions. If @MTV is the cool girl, @TRL is her quirky, uncool younger sister; TRL's voice is deeply offbeat while remaining highly relatable. We execute this voice across every single social platform so that users are compelled to follow us everywhere, as a brand that is as unique, expressive and unpredictable as our audience.

Through that voice, we present our followers with several layers of unique and engaging content. Digital-first franchises like our #FRESHOUT and #MORNINGBOP keep our audience engaged with the latest new music and trending content—to date, our #FRESHOUT franchise has accumulated more than 1 million views. We surround the daily live show with several live pre-shows on social, live-tweeting and real-time posting on Instagram Stories and Snapchat, and dispersing key moments and performances from the show across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter within moments in custom formats for each channel to maximize engagement.

Finally, our digital-first videos feature A-list talent and top influencers in hilariously relatable moments that only TRL can create. Whether it's social media star Liza Koshy trying out pole dancing, or our favorite young female stars getting stumped in a game of Older Than/Younger Than, they are made with the intent of connecting fans to the celebs they love most in unique and engaging ways.


To date, TRL has accumulated more than 310 million total video views and 19 million engagements across all of our social platforms. Our social audience is hyper-passionate and engaged: TRL's engagement rate on Instagram and Twitter outstrips everyone we consider competitors, from other talk shows like The Ellen Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show with James Corden and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, among others, to music and culture brands like Billboard, Genius, Fader, Noisey, Entertainment Tonight and Complex (source: Tubular, 10/2/17—2/6/18 ranked on total engagements/followers). Within Viacom's family of programs and networks, our engagement rate ranks as the number one social account within all of Viacom on Twitter and second on Instagram, ranking only behind MTV (source: Tubular).

In just four short months, TRL has become a content powerhouse on social media, and much of that success is indebted to our social identity, executed consistently with our audience at the forefront. Presenting TRL to a new generation of fans meant rethinking how we connect and relate to them, and the viral content that we have been fortunate enough to create has been underlined by a voice that specifically speaks to who they are and what they love.


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