Exploring the Trump/Hip-Hop Conundrum at Viacom HQ

“How can the country that elected Donald Trump president be the same country that rates hip-hop as the number one mainstream genre?”

This is the question that opened Viacom’s Hype & Influence panel, moderated by Marketing Strategy’s Brooke Ozaydinli and featuring MTV’s Wanda Coriano, BET Music & Talent’s Bianca Edwards, and rapper Maliibu Miitch. The exploration of the state of Hip-Hop in today’s culture was a Black History Month event organized at the company’s Times Square headquarters by The BEAT (Viacom’s employee resource group devoted to the African-American experience), the Marketing Strategy team, and the BET Music Meeting.

“It’s not surprising,” Edwards said to Ozaydinli’s opening question, “because hip-hop thrives in environments with oppression and adversity.”

The Hype & Influence panel built on a video series of the same name, created by Viacom’s V By Viacom platform to explore cultural trends. The first edition, featuring BET’s Connie Orlando, 300 Entertainment co-founder Kevin Liles, and Miitch explored the same themes as the panel, which opened with a viewing:

Here are a few other highlights from the afternoon, from thoughts on the authenticity of Cardi B to the power and potential perils of hip-hop:

“People are used to everything being cookie-cutter”

Miitch addressed why she thought people connected with Cardi B, whose Bodak Yellow video has been viewed nearly a half billion times on YouTube. “People are used to everything being cookie-cutter,” she said, “but with an artist like Cardi, who doesn’t filter herself, people connect with her because she says out loud the things that people are thinking.”

Sparking a love of music

Coriano grew up in The Bronx hearing hip-hop on the streets, forming the foundation of her love for music across genres. “Living in the Bronx, hip-hop was my music and it was the music of that time.”

Maliibu Miitch and members of her Atlantic Records management team at the Hype & Influence panel, held at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters in honor of Black History Month. Photo by Pound & Grain.

Should children listen to hip-hop?

During the event’s question-and-answer portion, I sparked an extended debate when I asked about the relationship between kids and hip-hop. Miitch argued that parents do a lot of things in front of their kids that could be deemed worse than what artists rap about. “People rap about their truth and it’s not something to hide from children,” she said.

Coriano made the point that kids don’t always understand what is being said, and sometimes just like a song because they can dance to it or it has a nice beat. You can keep kids away from that sort of music, or give them a censored version, since many elements of hip-hop can be educational – she pointed to Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 or Kendrick Lamar’s songs about Injustice.

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A Viacom Employee Panel: Staying Healthy and Positive in the Social Media Age

With the emergence of social media as a source for news, it is little surprise that it has also become a social activism platform. But how do you know which movements are credible? Do you fact check news before believing it? Where exactly is social media taking us?

These were only a few of the many questions discussed at the Activism in Media Panel in honor of Black History Month, organized by The BEAT – Viacom’s employee resource group dedicated to the African-American experience – at the company’s Times Square headquarters.

Kimberly Renee Selden, content producer, educator, and founder of The Global Media Project, moderated this conversation among four influential media voices, each of whom shared a background in media and a common drive to pave the way for others.

The panelists:

Charles Coleman Jr. is a civil rights attorney who established E.D.G.E, a movement focused on inspiring the next generation of leaders and creating more positive examples of manhood for young men.

 

 

 

Eunique Gibson Jones is a content creator, director, and speaker who develops campaigns that ignite conversations and introspection. She also founded Because of Them We Can, a movement that empowers the next generation to honor the legacy of their ancestors.

 

 

Nantasha Williams is a well-respected political strategist, social architect and community engager, who successfully played a role in organizing the enormous 2017 Women’s March.

 

 

 

Steven Roberts is a director of video for MTV News, who helped re-establish the brand’s voice with a new generation of engaged young people.

 

 

 

 


Social Media Activism: The Pros and Cons

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat have obvious upsides – giving voice to the voiceless, quickly disseminating information, providing optimal platforms for engagement – but the panel also uncovered some of the downsides, including the spread of disinformation, the cultivation of short attention spans, and a lack of true depth from so-called “engagements.”

Gibson Jones elaborated on a real-life consequence of short attention spans: “Last February, I ran a campaign for Because of Them We Can. On February 1 we like to kick it off for Black History Month, but at the same time our video went up, Beyonce announced that she was having twins!”

The lesson: do not underestimate the importance of strategic timing to the success of social media activism.

Viacom employees with the panelists after the Activism in Media panel at 1515 Broadway in New York City in honor of Black History Month. Photo by Natasha Nieves.

The Power of Positive Storytelling on Media

When creating a movement, it is important to stay positive and consistent, to maintain the mission, values, purpose, and story of that movement and keep people engaged and motivated.

“The stories that we tell and how we tell them have a direct impact in terms of our own self- image as well as our images around others,” said Coleman Jr. “Those in the creative process have a tremendous power to shape narratives. My personal goal and what I am currently working on is creating a platform to reconstruct the narrative of young men of color, so that they can see themselves in higher power, and know that their goals are attainable. Positive stories are visualization, and visualizations become reality.”

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Viacom Scores 14 Daytime Emmy Nominations Across Three Brands

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

​Viacom has locked in 14 Daytime Emmy Awards nominations across three brands, underscoring the company’s appeal across dayparts and demographics.

Top kids’ brand Nickelodeon scored a dozen nominations, including one for Outstanding Children’s Animated Series (SpongeBob SquarePants), and three for Outstanding Daytime Promotional Announcement Brand Image Campaign. Logo TV and MTV each earned one nomination.

Check out this video created by Viacom Catalyst for the full list of Viacom Daytime Emmy nominees:

The 45th annual Daytime Emmy Awards will take place at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on April 29, 2018. Scroll through the 14 Viacom nominees below, and view the full list here.

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My Mic Sounds Nice: Viacom and The BEAT Recognize Hip-Hop’s Innovative Women

My Mic Sounds Nice, a panel organized by the BEAT (Viacom’s employee resource group devoted to the African American experience) gave a shout out to the women fundamental to hip-hop’s success. Trell Thomas, VH1 Save the Music Foundation’s director of communication and talent relations, moderated the event at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters.

The panel featured women who contribute to hip-hop in major ways: Jana Fleishman, EVP of Communication at Roc Nation; LaTrice Burnette, SVP of Marketing at Epic Records; Nadeska Alexis, Senior Editorial Producer at Complex; and hip-hop artist Roxanne Shante.

View the slideshow:

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Viacom Explores August Wilson’s Pittsburgh with Broadway Cast of Jitney

In January 2017, the late August Wilson’s play Jitney made its Broadway debut. A period piece set in the late 1970s, the play is about gypsy cab drivers in an African-American Pittsburgh neighborhood. Despite the city’s economic slump, these drivers are thriving and making an honest living—all because regular cabs at the time did not want to service black neighborhoods.

Like Fences—Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play that evolved into Paramount’s Oscar-winning smashJitney provides an authentic portrayal of the African-American experience in a particular time and place. The characters are flawed, embroiled in racial tensions and poverty, yet their humanity shines through.

Jitney is part of Wilson’s Century Cycle, a collection of 10 plays set in historically African-American neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and Chicago throughout each decade of the 20th century.

To celebrate Black History Month, The BEAT (Viacom’s employee resource group focused on the African-American experience) hosted a panel discussion at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters with five Jitney cast members.

View the slideshow:

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BET Celebrates Black History Month With a Brilliant Nelson Mandela Biopic

It’s never felt more relevant to watch a film that brings truth to one of the world’s most stirring leaders.

On April 26, 1964, Nelson Mandela addressed the court in Rivona, South Africa.

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination,” said Nelson Mandela. “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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BET, Logo, VH1 Honored for Excellence in Multicultural Marketing

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

They are shows that celebrate drag culture and America’s oldest gay ski week. They mine the early days of hip-hop and toast its ripple effect throughout our culture. They erase our differences by showing that we’re not so different when we’re… naked.

As varied as these shows and their subjects are, they have one thing in common: each one highlights the programming on a Viacom network.

Actually, they have another thing in common: each was honored by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity In Communications (NAMIC) last month. For the 30th consecutive year, the organization hosted the Excellence in Multicultural Marketing Awards (EMMA) to acknowledge the very best in multicultural marketing.

A trio of our networks – BET, Logo and VH1 – took more than a dozen of the awards altogether. This follows an impressive showing by Nickelodeon and BET at NAMIC’s Vision Awards last spring.

View the full list of 2016 EMMA winners as laid out in Cablefax here, or check out the NAMIC video below:

Congratulations to all of the Viacom winners. We’ve organized them by category below:

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Viacom Presents Digital Magnetism: The Power of One Voice

With its diverse and global workforce, Viacom places a special emphasis on Black History Month, hosting a series of events for black employees and their colleagues invested in diversity in our rapidly changing industry. In the heart of this month-long focus, we hosted TV personality Emil Wilbekin to moderate a panel of popular bloggers and BET executives. These experts discussed black cultural contributions to media and how bloggers can maximize digital content to create a unique voice and permanently impact their field.

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Ava L. Hall has has worked at BET International since 2007. From her UK office, she has overseen the… Read More

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Claire Sulmers is a New York-based writer and editor whose work has appeared in Real Simple, Newswee… Read More

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Emil Wilbekin is a New York-based creative and strategic media, marketing, and branding professional… Read More

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Luvvie Ajayi is an award-winning writer, digital strategist and speaker who thrives at the intersect… Read More

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Maureen Carter is an Emmy award-winning designer, writer and lecturer with more than 15 years of ind… Read More

The diverse panelists discussed the challenges facing African-Americans in the media industry. “The thing with digital [content] is,” said Wilbekin, “It’s changing constantly. It’s like the Wild West.”

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Viacom Explores Brand You During Black History Month

Are you a brand?

Maybe so. That’s one of the many thought-provoking insights to flow from the many Black History Month events hosted by Viacom’s Office of Global Inclusion and The BEAT– the company’s employee resource groups which promote diversity for African-Americans and their colleagues – in February.

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Viacom staff enjoys a panelist discussion on personal branding in honor of Black History Month. Read More

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Viacom staff enjoys a panelist discussion on personal branding in honor of Black History Month. Read More

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Viacom staff enjoys a panelist discussion on personal branding in honor of Black History Month. Read More

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Kendrick Reid (SVP & Executive Creative Director, BET Networks Creative Services), Pierre Roache… Read More

The idea of a personal brand emerged from the “Amplify Creative” panel discussion, during which employees listened to executives in various brands’ creative departments talk about the importance of remaining imaginative when facing creative challenges. The conversation evolved into a deeper discussion of how branding within their work applied to how they each brand themselves personally. Moderated by publisher Donna Byrd of The Root,  panelists Keith Dawkins, executive vice president of Nickelodeon Niche Network, and Kendrick Reid, senior vice president and executive creative director of BET Networks Creative Services, shared their thoughts and perspectives.

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Saving The Music With Jennah Bell and Rotimi

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The VH1 Save the Music Foundation​ is committed to ensuring that musical instruction remains central to a well-rounded education. And what better way to underscore that point than with live music? Last week, VH1 Save The Music, and Viacommunity supporters gathered in celebration of Black History Month to watch an intimate performance from Jennah Bell and Rotimi.

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