Kerry Taylor

Inside the mind of MTV's chief marketing officer


If anyone needs to constantly have their finger on the proverbial pulse, it’s Kerry Taylor. As Viacom’s chief marketing officer, she oversees marketing of the company’s channels across 30 different countries, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Channel 5 and the icon of youth entertainment that is MTV. The main task at hand? Keeping their channels’ brand and content relevant to a rapidly changing youth culture. While most would find keeping two steps ahead of youth trends an insurmountable task, we soon found out Kerry practically thrives on the challenge.

We hear Viacom’s headquarters are “rainbow-coloured” – what’s the office culture like there?
Viacom’s London office is an amazing hub for creativity.Beyond the rainbow-coloured exterior, we have a massive MTV Moonman floating over our cafeteria, and works by local emerging artists cover a number of the walls.When it comes to our culture, we’re lucky to have some of the most brilliant minds working across our brands to ensure that we’re constantly on top of the latest trends.It’s definitely a fun, hyper-creative environment, and we have an open office layout that helps foster collaboration between groups.

If anyone knows youth trends, you do. What are the kids going crazy for these days?
At MTV, our business depends on the relationship we have with our audience.One trend we’re seeing is that dating sites aren’t being used just for dating anymore – people are using sites like TwotoTango in the US and PengPeng in China as a way to meet friends (“platonic dating”) or just be more social. Additionally, despite what some people may think, young people still have a strong appetite for news, but they’re consuming it via non-traditional routes, like Snapchat Discover.

Music was where it all started for MTV. With tunes now so readily and freely available, is there still demand for televised festivals and music videos?
Absolutely. Music is such a core part of young people’s lives, it will always be at the heart of MTV. When it comes to our on-the-ground events in particular, we host some of the most incredible live music shows around the world, from the MTV EMA to one of our newest events, MTV Music Evolution – which is taking place in the Philippines in May.For Millennials, saying “I did that” – and showing it – is more important than material possessions.An Instagram photo at a live event, like Isle of MTV, is social currency.In an age where we’re often separated by screens, Millennials also want to feel like they’re part of something greater, so they value these in-person moments and experiences.

In recent years, reality TV shows such as Geordie Shore have seen MTV’s rating soar. Why do you think this is?
Our audience loves the Geordie’s!We just debuted season ten to huge numbers, with live ratings for the premiere episode surpassing the previous season’s debut.In the UK, the series was even nominated by viewers for a National Television Award for best multi-channel program, up against Game of Thrones and TheWalking Dead! We aim to make each series compelling, authentic and relatable – and this show hits all three out of the park.Additionally, our audience loves to laugh – and Geordie Shore absolutely delivers on that as well.

Does social media influence MTV’s content, or vice-versa?
Both! 40 percent of Millennials engage in TV related activity via social media, and television has become a go-to conversation topic.We know that our shows have to fuel today’s like-economy while sparking conversations and real-time connections across platforms.  Additionally, we are constantly blurring the lines between platforms, and absolutely taking cues from social media.These shows are produced with a complete 360-degree view.They may start online before coming to our air, and integrate seamlessly with the multi-platform world our audience lives in.

You’ll be talking about “breaking boredom and fuelling creativity” at Vivid. Can you give us any advice on how to stop yawning and start creating?
I am so thrilled to speak at Vivid Ideas, especially since it’s become world renowned as a diverse and eclectic forum for creative thinkers. We’ll dive into this much more during the panel, but I think it all starts with how you tap into what you or your audiences are most passionate about, and how your harness that energy. It’s about not resting on your laurels ever, [but rather] being hyper-current and iterative, and breaking out of the status quo.

Vivid Ideas 2015 runs from 21 May to 14 June. Find out more and buy tickets here.

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