MTV gears up to spread election fever

MUMBAI: For all those youngsters who are rather vocal about their disenchantment with the present administration but fail to exercise their right to vote, MTV is all set to drive political awareness and the need to vote among the country’s youth.

‘MTV Rock the Vote’, sponsored by Hero, sounds a wake-up call for all those above 18 years of age who have their own opinion to express. With India poised for general elections, there couldn’t have been a better time for MTV to launch the campaign in partnership with Rock the Vote, a US-based non profit, non partisan organisation founded 21 years ago which pushes political awareness among youth in USA, Canada and Chile.

MTV India, EVP and business head Aditya Swamy says: “Apart from playing a huge role in pop culture, MTV has always led young people in the area of social activism. Young people have the power more than ever to make a difference. Hero MTV Rock the Vote is a movement that aims to make young people aware of this power, and to act on their right to be heard. Our partnership with Hero is truly special as both brands are genuinely committed to working with the youth to build an even more incredible India.”

Having registered over five million young people to vote, Rock the Vote has become a trusted source of voting information for young people.

Rock the Vote USA president Heather Smith says: "Rock the Vote is thrilled to be partnering with MTV India in this effort to encourage young people to get engaged in the upcoming elections. Rock the Vote has a long standing history with MTV and has worked to elevate the voice and concerns of young people in the United States for over 20 years. We are excited to bring this partnership to India to ensure that young people in this country are being heard by those they elect."

Young people have the power more than ever to make a difference, says Aditya Swamy

MTV India head – marketing, media and insights, Sumeli Chatterjee believes youngsters today are very vocal and expressive and have a very strong point of view on things happening around them. “If they see something and are influenced by certain trends, they talk it out in social media,” she says. “Look at MTV, the way we are positioned, we entertain, we lead, we educate the youngsters about the trends that are happening across the world. We have launched this campaign to further educate people to vote in India, to further believe that you have the power to vote and bring about a change in India.”

Apparently, the findings of a survey conducted by MTV include:

·  In 2014, 12 crore first-time voters will be eligible to vote, which is more than the votes won by any party during the last election.

·  While 32 per cent of the Indian electorate is under 30 years of age, less than 12 per cent voted during the last election.

·  While 97 per cent of youth agree they can bring about a change in the society, only 15 per cent claim they have a say in choosing the government

Rocking the boat

With a cheeky tagline that reads ‘Dabao na... button’, ‘MTV Rock the Vote’ puns on the voting button to urge first time voters to cast their vote.

The channel has launched a series of hard-hitting, satirical five short films that re-emphasise on the need to vote; the first of which was aired on 6 December on the website  and on Facebook and Twitter with hashtag #RockTheVote. Plans are afoot to release a new short film every Friday online and on the following Monday from 7am onwards on MTV and will be played almost every hour. 

All the films and creatives are done by MTV’s in-house team. The funny creatives include: ‘Aur Khilao Suar ke bachon ko’, ‘You could either hand it over or show them the finger’ and ‘Sharing an ice-cream is cool but only when you can afford it’ among others.

Sumeli Chatterjee believes youngsters today are very vocal and expressive

Explains Chatterjee: “We will be discussing issues that are strictly confronts the youth and what is affecting their life – corruption being one. If freedom and social media is one thing that they want in India, we will discuss that. If we are saying women’s security really affects them, then we will discuss that.”

But how is the campaign different from other election-based ad message? “If you look at our campaign and the whole movement, we have built it on three pillars of popular youth culture – Bollywood, music and humour. Humour is something which is weaving the entire campaign together,” replies Chatterjee.

In the coming weeks, MTV plans to take its "vote" message across multiple cities through college festivals, concerts and panel discussions with policy makers. The target: 300 colleges nationwide.

“Music is something that really brings this youth community together.  We are creating a music video with Yo Yo Honey Singh which will be released early next year and will be about the issues that the youth face. It will be out the whole power of youth coming together. They can decide the future of the nation; they can come in and vote together,” says Chatterjee.

‘MTV Rock the Vote’ will run till the end of the general elections 2014 and even after that. “This is the campaign which has been created only to ensure that the youth community is conversing about elections, conversing about the biggest thing that is happening next year and participating in it,” says Chatterjee.

“The communication at this stage is focused on urging the youth to register for voting; we are telling them that it is the only way you can actually go and cast your vote. Closer to the date when the general elections are on, it will be a reminder to vote, and after the elections, it will be a gratification for all those who have actually fulfilled their responsibility and gone and voted.”

As part of the initiative, MTV plans to host a series of panel discussions with the youth on one side and spokespersons from political parties on the other. But it will have a fun flavour to it, according to Chatterjee, who says: “This is going to be fun. It is going to be light-hearted, a very informal way because that is the younger way of discussing issues. However, at the core it is essentially a very serious discussion where we are saying that these are the issues that are given by the youth, can we find answers.”

Youth icons Rannvijay Singh and Yo Yo Honey Singh will encourage the youth to go to their nearest voting booths and vote through a music anthem. This will be a crowd-sourced music video, and will imbibe the essence of the initiative. Many celebs have come on board as supporters. The channel hopes that rock the vote initiative will serve as a call to action. Will the fickle youth respond?

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