MTV Asia uses VJ star power to hype the brand in China

station identification logo? If you're MTV Asia, you rely heavily on your video jockeys-the public face of your channel....
March 1, 2000

station identification logo? If you’re MTV Asia, you rely heavily on your video jockeys-the public face of your channel.

The battle for teens ages 12 and up is heating up in China, and MTV is at a great disadvantage over its main rival Channel [V]. Majority-owned and operated by Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV, Channel [V] operates 24 hours a day and is one of the few foreign satellite services able to air its entire block of programming in mainland China. MTV Mandarin (the Mandarin-language service operated by MTV Asia) is restricted to two hours of programming daily, plus one additional hour each week.

It may be several more years before MTV Asia gets to sample a bigger bite of the broadcast pie in China, so in order to overcome this huge programming handicap, the music net relies heavily on the dynamism of its on-air talent.

‘The VJs become our face and our sign,’ says Chris Fan, the Shanghai-based talent and artist relations manager for MTV Mandarin. ‘Audiences [in China] like idols, and if our VJs can be this kind of person, it brings us more viewers.’ With its personality-plus on-air hosts, MTV has a distinct advantage over local Chinese stations, which tend to go for a far more conservative style of VJ.

MTV organizers work hard to maximize exposure for the net by plugging its edgy VJs into local promotional events, such as the Rejoice Shampoo’s ‘May Dreams Come True’ campaign last year. For this event, VJs combed the cities and queried young people on-camera about their dreams or fantasies. Viewers voted on the contestants interviewed, and the winners were granted their wish. The goal was to position Rejoice as an inspirational product for the youth market.

The VJs, most of whom are part-time staff members, are happy to serve as hosts for many events. Not only does the gig mean extra income, but their increased exposure on television brings them new opportunities in the film and music industry. How convenient. . .

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