Africa: MTV launches first youth-focused, global, multi-platform climate change campaign – MTV Switch


MTV last week announced the launch of MTV SWITCH, the first youth-focused, global, multi-platform campaign created to help slow down the acceleration of global warming. Through public service announcements (PSAs), television programming and online resources, the campaign aims to promote environmentally-friendly lifestyle choices among youth in order to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Starting Thursday, 14 June, 35 MTV SWITCH PSAs will air across Africa on MTV (DStv Channel 85) and MTV base (DStv Channel 88), simultaneously breaking across MTV’s global network of 55 localized TV channels in 162 countries as well as on the network’s 44 online and 16 mobile offerings, to reach a potential audience of 1.5 billion viewers. Using a unique style and tone that resonates with MTV’s audience of 12- to 34-year-olds, the initiative delivers simple tips to help viewers realise that small actions taken by many individuals can make massive differences to the world’s carbon emissions. Supplemental MTV programming—long and short-form as well as news—will incorporate energy conservation themes and are scheduled to air throughout the year. All facets of the campaign, including more than 10 celebrity-driven idents, will direct viewers to MTV SWITCH’s dedicated multi-lingual website,

“We are facing a tipping point on climate change and we need to act now,” said Bill Roedy, Vice Chairman, MTV Networks. “The MTV SWITCH campaign seeks to empower our viewers to make simple behavioural changes to have a profound impact on conserving energy. The statistics are staggering. If less than 1% of our total potential viewing audience—roughly one million people—switches to three energy efficient light bulbs, this would be equivalent to taking 100,000 cars off the road. Small energy efficient steps taken by many can clearly make a big difference to climate change. MTV SWITCH will engage the young people who will be impacted most by climate change through personal and motivational messages on-air, online and on mobile.”

Everyone, no matter what age or where they live, can take action to reduce their carbon footprint. The MTV SWITCH PSAs seek to entertain, intrigue and inspire viewers to take on simple climate conscience acts such as unplugging mobile chargers and turning the thermostat down one degree. With this goal in mind, six advertising agencies (180 LA, Cake, Lowe Worldwide, Ogilvy, Wieden + Kennedy 12 and Y&R) created and produced PSAs for MTV SWITCH. All of the ads were created pro bono and, in an effort to reach the largest possible audience, are available rights-free and cost-free to all broadcasters and content distributors around the world for use on-air, online and on mobile. More than 25 broadcasters have already been confirmed to air the campaign, including Community Channel (UK), RTP (Portugal), ERT (Greece), UJRT (Serbia), LBC (Lebanon), Metro TV (Indonesia), ITV (Tanzania) and TV6 (Trinidad).

The PSAs the agencies produced include: Brad and Earth, Ways to Protect the Planet (180 LA); Francois, Marie, Pet Penguin, Trees Breathing, Waterline (Lowe Worldwide); 3650, Busy Doing Nothing (Ogilvy); Candle Face, Exhaust, Game of Walk, Leader, Leo Helm, Please, Small Things and Turn Me Off (Wieden + Kennedy 12). Faces (Y+R) includes a broadcast component as well as a complementary print campaign for use in music, sports and fashion publications. In addition, Cake created Global Rap, which will be deployed virally, and MTVNI created four of its own PSAs. Five additional MTV SWITCH PSAs are expected to roll out throughout the year.

Roedy added, “All of us here at MTV are incredibly pleased with the world-class work of 180 LA, Cake, Lowe Worldwide, Ogilvy, Wieden + Kennedy 12 and Y&R. These six advertising agencies produced compelling spots that entertain, intrigue and, more importantly, motivate our viewers to make positive behavioral changes to protect the environment. They used a variety of techniques, even humour, that perfectly fit into the MTV environment. They dedicated their time and resources pro bono. And, they offered up their work rights-free and cost-free to anyone who’s interested in broadcasting them. Literally hundreds of people pulled together to create MTV SWITCH. Together, we will empower MTV’s audiences around the world to lower their carbon footprint.”

Building upon the messaging in the PSAs, MTV will also broadcast long and short-form programming as well as news packages that underscore the importance of creating an energy efficient environment. As part of this commitment, Xzibit, Mad Mike and the entire Pimp My Ride crew at G.A.S. (Galpin Auto Sports) will give a ’65 Chevy Impala an 800 horsepower diesel engine that will run on biodiesel, turning it into one extraordinary clean machine. Two short documentaries produced by Element will also air under the MTV SWITCH umbrella: Tine and Ifie (documents the devastating effects of a Nigerian oil spill) and Tia (chronicles the environmental repercussions of illegal lumbering in Papua New Guinea). Chil;dren’s channel Nickelodeon will also participate in the initiative by providing age appropriate information about what kids, aged 6-14, can do to help lower their family’s energy consumption.

All of MTV SWITCH’s television programming and PSAs direct viewers to the campaign’s website, The site aims to provide viewers with the tools and knowledge needed to start lowering carbon emissions. In an effort to increase awareness of the site, more than 10 celebrities (Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Calvin Harris, Good Charlotte, Enrique Iglesias, JoJo, MIMS, Kelly Rowland, Shaggy, Tinchy Stryder, Rufus Wainwright and Xzibit) encourage viewers to visit through idents airing across MTV’s worldwide network, with more to come.