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Special Project

Special Project
From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

MTV's Rebel Music: Native America

Entered in Facebook Campaign, Video


Rebel Music: Native America premieres our series highlighting stories of unrepresented youth using music and art to drive social change. The Native American community faces many challenges including a suicide rate 4x the national average and a sexual violence rate 2.5x higher as well as threats to their culture and environment – but is rarely covered by mainstream media.

Skepticism of media, rooted in previous one-dimensional portrayals, misrepresentation and stereotyping, made communities wary of collaboration and providing access. We spent months meeting young artists and tribal leaders and researching Native culture. We hired Native American directors, researchers, and created a Native American Advisory Board to ensure authenticity. Trust grew that we would present their stories told in their own voices.

Rebel Music: Native America is MTV's first ever Facebook premiere. We used Facebook's mobile penetration and social power to reach the Native American community more effectively, since broadband deployment on tribal lands is less than 10% v. 65% nationwide.

It went viral, breaking records with 4.4MM+ views and 75k+ shares (becoming MTV's most viewed/shared Facebook video ever!), with 197k+ likes and 27k+ comments like "Who's proud to be Native American? I am!!"

Rebel Music: Native America gained +410MM press impressions.The White House invited us to screen and host a panel discussion. We also created content featured before President Obama's Native youth initiative announcement.

By introducing these Native youth stories with music as a universal connector, viewers relate in ways that elevates their message, inspiring not only a community but an entire generation.

Strategy and Execution

Series Overview: Rebel Music is a documentary film series about youth protest movements in the most turbulent parts of the world. The Rebel Music series premiere kicks off in our nation's own backyard on Native America – where few in America know anything about modern Native youth – their world and their stories, both positive and negative.

Production Backstory: Our research and pre-production teams spent months building trust within the Native American Communities. Our series Co-Director Billy Luther (a Sundance Festival winning Native American film director) was instrumental. Months of dialog led to incredible access on reservations which don't normally allow media to enter. All of our artists tell their own stories – we didn't tell it for them – no moderators and no hosts. Once we gained permission to enter the reservations, we traveled light – only 3 person crews. This allowed us to be treated as welcomed guests, not an intrusive horde of foreign media outsiders. To capture the stark beauty of these remote reservations, we also outfitted drones with large format cameras for aerial and POV shots.

Social outreach and buzz marketing: Our Facebook outreach started gradually, beginning with everyone connected through the episode: artists, activists, community and tribal leaders. The episode trailer was posted on Facebook one week prior to premiere. It organically gained 1 MM views and a remarkable 30,000 shares within the first 24 hours, without any paid support.

We were already researching 30 key Facebook influencers, who posted thoughtful commentary appealing to our Millennial and Native American targets. In the week counting down to the premiere, we reached out with additional content and personalized contact. These influencers amplified our countdown, connecting us with Native American influencers, bloggers, and local celebs across all platforms with active fan bases. We also reached out to Twitter influencers with Millennial followers, resulting in 15MM impressions and 2,200 mentions to date on Twitter.

In the week leading to premiere, our influencer content and outreach strategies ran concurrently with targeted campaign support. Our content posts leveraged new Twitter / Tumblr In-Stream video capabilities, so influencers posted snackable video shares - all linking back within Facebook, driving additional shares/comments/likes. These 3 alternate pieces of content (rap influences, environmental activism, and women's empowerment) gave influencers new reasons to post content to their fans. We also created shareable Gifs from Shepherd Fairey's powerful series art.

Below are some of the most notable organizations and influencers who promoted Rebel Music on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and/or Instagram in an impactful way (followers in parens):

UN Women - (615,000)
Shepard Fairey - @OBEYGIANT ( 166,000)

Laura Jane Grace - @LauraJaneGrace (63,800)

Tinsel Korey - @TinselKorey (81,300)

Head Rush Brand @headrushbrand (38,300)

Get Schooled - @getschooled (53,700)

Frank Waln - @FrankWaln (12,800)

Nataanii Means - @Nataanii Means (2,383)

Inez Jasper - @InezJasper (4,950)

Mike Cliff - @Witk0 (1,503)

Simon Moya Smith - @SimonMoyaSmith (5,335)

Tar Sands Blockade (NA environmental org) - @TarSandsBlockade

Supaman (Christian Parrish) (NA musician) -

Samuel Johnson (NA musician) - Indigenous Music Culture -

Las Cafeteras Band (NA band) -

Bunky Echo Hawk (NA musician) -

Sho Sho Esquiro (NA model) -

Kristen Howerton -

Aboriginal Music Week -

Brave Kids Voices -

Premiere Press: Total Impressions: 342,891,276* MTV's 'Rebel Music' highlights Native Americans Nov 12, 2014 (AP) - story picked up by hundreds of top-tier media outlets (print and online) including ABC, MSN, Chicago Daily Herald, The Washington Post, Bloomberg Business, The Detroit News, The Washington Times (many outlets print and online) – 209,903,572 total impressions.

Continuing Impacts: Knowing President Obama's commitment to Native American issues, we reached out pre-premiere to his team. After sharing the premiere's overwhelming results, the White House invited us for a screening and panel discussion for the President's youth initiative - Generation Indigenous – which focuses on removing barriers between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. We also created a separate film on the Gen-I youth, which premiered before the President's announcement of this initiative at the Tribal Nations Conference on 12/2/14. Our video highlighted some of the young Native leaders who attended the conference:

Post by MTV.

To extend the discussion, we created RebelED – a lesson plan and teacher's guide - that has been downloaded globally and distributed to 2,000 U.S. schools. Youth also stay connected on Rebel Music social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram as well as


Video for MTV's Rebel Music: Native America

Entrant Company / Organization Name

MTV World, Nomadic Wax


Entry Credits