Advertisers Should Steer Clear of VMA Controversies

Written by PTC | Published August 25, 2015

MileyVMA This coming Sunday, MTV will air the 32nd annual Video Music Awards, a program that has become synonymous with controversy. This years’ awards are to be hosted by Miley Cyrus – a former child star who still has a sizeable following of young fans, and who created a media frenzy on the same program just a couple of years ago when she simulated masturbation with a giant foam finger and “twerked” against Robin Thicke’s crotch during a joint performance. Because of the VMA’s history, and the host’s recent public performances (which have included simulated sex acts and approving references to drug use), the PTC reached out to past sponsors of the MTV Video Music Awards and urged them to carefully weigh any decision to buy time on the program this year. The Hollywood Reporter reports more about our call to advertisers here: Parents Television Council Urges Sponsors to Reconsider Advertising During VMAs (Exclusive), and here: The Reason This Group Is ‘Taking Action’ Against MTV and Miley Cyrus — and Giving a Strong Warning to Parents. MTV is not primarily targeting young adults – that much should be clear. They are aiming for young kids. Which is why in addition to urging advertisers to reconsider their support, the PTC is also urging parents to steer their kids away from the VMAs. MTV may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but its influence with young audiences is unabated. It’s their main selling point to potential sponsors. Look at what MTV’s own Marketing division had to say about the network’s influence on young viewers just a few years ago:
  • [Teens] look to MTV to find out about their world in their language, from their point of view.
  • Young adults 15-17 are excited consumers and extremely impressionable. Now is the time to influence their choices.
Watching MTV changes the attitudes and perceptions of young viewers. At least two experiments show that watching MTV results in more permissive attitudes about sex. One such experiment found that seventh and ninth graders were more likely to approve of premarital sex after watching MTV for just one hour. And it’s not just the sexual messages on MTV that influence teen behavior. According to the Institute on Media and the Family, even modest viewing of MTV and other music videos results in significant exposure to glamorized depictions of alcohol and tobacco use, alcohol use linked with sexuality, and violence and weapons. Violent lyric content can also contribute to teens’ desensitization to violence. More than half the children in this country have television sets in their bedrooms. Surveys indicate that 44% of children say they watch something different when they are alone than when they are with their parents, and 25% of those children choose MTV. We are urging advertisers to do the responsible thing by refusing to underwrite these harmful media messages. But as parents, we have a role to play, too. If you are the parent of a child or teen still living at home, and you are reading this, make sure you know what your kids are watching this Sunday evening.

Take Action. Stay Informed.