MGMT 3275-090 Spring 2011 Mrs. Tamara L. Cohen Case #1 INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT MTV Networks: The Arabian Challenge
BACKGROUND • MTV launched in US in1981; bought by Viacom in 1986 • mid-1990s strategy “Think Global, Act Local” in Australia, Asia, India, China, Germany, etc. • successful decentralized structure with commercial & creative autonomy with local staff • MTV Networks launched MTV Arabia in Nov, 2007 • established partner Arabian TV Network; licensing arrangement • Target audience in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Lebanon, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Palestine, Syria • part of global expansion strategy • extensive research • attractive regional growth opportunities • culturally sensitive environment • designed localized Arabic version of int’l music & reality shows • launched Nickelodeon Arabia in 2008 (“catch them young”)
PROBLEMS • MTV known for sexually explicit & provocative programs & risqué content – explicit Western culture; contrary to conservative cultures of Middle East; example of what Arabs “most revile about Western pop culture”; Arabs generally suspicious of Western interest • potential for offending local sensibilities: • excessive skin showing • intermingling genders • use of disparaging/swear words • off-color/obscene humor • references to alcohol • discussions about religion/politics • gestures like finger-pointing/heels of feet • “local” tastes are not homogeneous • too much localization can dilute MTV brand • significant anti-American sentiment exists in most Arab countries • stiff competition from dozens of local music channels with better understanding of local tastes; niche markets already established • some Arab music stars already under contract with some local channels • Singh’s obscure definition of success (people in smallest cities saying they love MTV)
MTV reputation for risqué content Abundant areas for offence Local Arab taste not homogeneous Too much localization dilutes brand Anti-American sentiment Stiff local competition Some Arab stars under exclusive contracts with local stations Singh’s tough definition of success Continue careful local programming planning and censoring. Acknowledge differences in localization within different countries. Come to terms with some brand dilution. Nurture relationships to bolster anti-sentiment. Leverage global strengths to counter local competition. Catch up-and-coming stars and secure exclusive contracts. Go out and look for confirmation of success in Singh’s terms. COURSES of ACTION ACTIONS PROBLEMS
RECOMMENDATIONS • Pursue localization of content and management • Solidify relationship with local partner, Arabian TV Network (extend time horizon or buy the partner outright) • Build relationships with locals everywhere in Arab markets
CONCLUSION MTV Networks has a very strong brand and a record of impressive aggressive growth. MTV Arabia ambitiously seeks to serve Arab markets in 12 Middle Eastern countries. The company can be successful if it follows its path of scrupulous localization of content and programming. Management should continue to support creative and commercial autonomy.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY MTV’s major strength is its dynamic global brand. The company is on the road to achieving a strong presence in the Arab market in the Middle East. Although MTV faces vigorous local competition and historical anti-Western sentiment and suspicion in its Arab markets, MTV can leverage its global strength and can offer its young adult audiences a window to the world of global youth culture.