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From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

MTV's 16 & Recovering Digital Marketing

Entered in Social Good Campaign


With every new show on MTV, our goal is to always bring in a new audience, while also attracting our loyal viewers. The show 16 & Recovering deals with an incredibly heavy subject matter, so we knew the audience might differ a bit than our typical MTV reality crowd. We aimed to target the older and slightly more female side of the MTV prime demographic.

16 & Recovering shares the intimate stories of teens at a recovery high school, struggling with substance misuse, making it very different than the typical reality show you would see on MTV. Because of this, we took a very unique approach when developing our marketing plans ahead of the premiere. We were acutely aware of making sure every marketing item attached to this show was not only promotional, but insightful, respectful and informative.

Our goal for this show was to highlight the serious issues the show focuses on, provide resources for viewers who might be struggling and supplement the shows messaging and character arcs with carefully created original digital content. All the while, we needed to make sure our content remained fully respectful of the sensitive stories being shared on the show and did not open the students up to criticism online.


Strategy and Execution

While we are always respectful of the talent we have on any reality show, this show in particular covered the very real topic of life and death, something we had never really dealt with on the network. The young adults featured in this series are fighting a fragile, lifelong battle every single day and because of this, we needed to make sure we were not opening up new avenues that directly impacted their progress. Not only we were focused on keeping our talent safe, we also owed this same level of protection to our fans. This show dives into very real issues that several fans are facing daily, specifically substance use, mental health and loss. Because of this, we needed to make sure we were constantly providing helpful resources and information for our fans to use and consume in an effort to protect their own well-being and those of that around them. Given the current climate and precautions around COVID19, we dealt with the hurdle of capturing all talent-focused content at a distance. All packages we produced for this show were captured remotely.

Through a series of custom packages featuring Michelle Lipinski, the Principal of Northshore Recovery High School – the main setting of this show – we introduced the show’s unique concept to help open the minds of our potential viewers. Additionally, since September was National Recovery Month, we produced a series of remotely-filmed “Where Are They Now?” packages that dived deeper into the personal growth these students made since graduating and filming this series. Lastly, we worked with our internal Social Impact team to develop a series of resource cards and CTA videos that were tacked onto all of our videos and posted on social media throughout each live airing. The fan response to our work was incredible throughout the

4-weeks this show was on air. Viewers of the show on social have praised MTV for tackling this important and underrepresented issue.


The campaign kicked off with the trailer and an extended sneak peek of the first episode, which combined have 4.8M views to date. Next, we posted our two videos with Michelle Lipinski, “Rethinking the Road to Recovery” and “Introducing Michelle.” These packages have 47k combined views. Once the show premiered, we posted our weekly “Where Are They Now?” videos, which have 191k total views to date. In lieu of live tweeting each week, we posted a series of resource cards that provided viewers with various organizations and hotlines to turn to when seeking help for those struggling with substance misuse, mental health issues or loss. Through these resources cards we also drove viewers to the 16 & Recovering hub created by the Social Impact team, which provided even more resources and information. Throughout the 4-weeks this show was on-air over 20k viewers visited the resource hub.


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