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Special Project

Special Project
From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards

VMA Best New Artist Voting Chatbot

Finalist in Chatbots


Let's be honest, talking to a robot can be kind of weird. At MTV, we saw this as an opportunity to create an experience that turned passive chatbot behavior into an active voting experience for our fans, letting them choose the winner of the Best New Artist category at the 2017 Video Music Awards.

Our audience is always looking for new ways to express their passion for music. So from the onset, one of our primary goals was to bring them something innovative and fresh: an extra way to vote for Best New Artist on top of traditional voting on

On the brand side, we strive to connect our digital and linear TV audiences. While these audiences are both fans of MTV, they are unique in the way the consume content. From a marketing perspective, we strived to devise tactics to connect these distinct audiences and ultimately drive tune-in for the VMAs.

And finally, since the Best New Artist category was sponsored by Taco Bell, it was important for us to strike a balance between the Taco Bell + MTV brand identities, aligning ourselves in a way that felt authentic to both brands. With these goals in mind, we set out to create the MTV VMA Best New Artist Voting Chatbot.

Strategy and Execution

As we explored the various platforms that support chatbots, we felt it was important to anchor this campaign on a platform where our audience was already organically talking about the VMAs. Fans are accustomed to participating in hashtag voting on Twitter during the show each year, so it felt like a natural fit to build the chatbot on Twitter to capitalize on the high engagement levels we see there.

Next, we set out to bring the Best New Artist chatbot to life by creating a conversational "voice" that unified both the MTV & Taco Bell brands. We achieved this using a mix of copy, photos, GIFs and video which added texture to the look and feel of the bot experience.

Our fans are always excited to get their votes in for the VMAs, so it was important for us to build in verifiable voting capabilities to give them an additional opportunity to support their favorite artists. We incentivized our audience to participate by giving them an extra vote (votes on are capped to 1 vote per category each day), and took it a step further by rewarding them with exclusive thank you videos that were shot with each nominated artist. These videos are still being shared across the platform to this day -- months after the campaign's conclusion!

And since Best New Artist was the only category to stay open until the day of the show, engaging with our Twitter bot was the only way fans could get in those last-minute votes. The initiative ran from August 18th - 27th, 2017 for a total of nine days. It was amplified using promoted Twitter Direct Message cards to reach our audience in their timelines, and get them to slide into our DMs where they could engage with the bot experience.

Shortly before broadcast on August 27th, we retargeted all chatbot participants with a Twitter push notification to build excitement and create a sense of urgency to watch the show, live on MTV. We told fans to watch our Red Carpet Pre-Show where we revealed the top two finalists for Best New Artist and moved into the final stage of voting: a hashtag battle on Twitter.


The primary goal of this campaign was to create an innovative new way for our fans to vote for Best New Artist at the 2017 VMAs. Our audience was excited about the opportunity to vote on one of their favorite social platforms, where they already spend ample time engaging with our brand. We delivered an immersive chatbot experience that pushed the boundaries of an emerging product space, elevating chatbots to become a functional part of the VMA voting narrative.

We delivered on our client goals, creating an authentic marriage between the MTV and Taco Bell brands. The casual tone of the messaging in our bot mirrors the way our audience expresses themselves on social media. The exclusive content delivered in the bot laddered up to the broader VMA marketing campaign, while making room for Taco Bell's iconography and brand tone.

We were also able to connect our digital and linear audiences through Twitter push notifications. After capturing all participants who engaged with our chatbot, retargeted them in the moments before showtime to deliver a real-time tune-in alert to drive ratings and show engagement.

In total, the campaign delivered an additional 54K+ votes on top of traditional voting on Users sent us a total of 248K+ messages over the nine days it was live. Best of all, our fans loved the experience and were eager to share it with their followers, which resulted in a 25% organic increase in voting engagement.


Video for VMA Best New Artist Voting Chatbot

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