MTV Decides the Next Generation Should Be Called the ‘Founders’ — Really?

Marketing demographics can be a bit of a boondoggle. Certainly these generational shifts help define how to reach a group of a particular age. Each generation is influenced by the technology, news and overall societal environs.

We create names to summarize these generational generalizations: Baby Boomers (from the post World War II explosion of births with fighting men returning) to Generation X (the “unknown generation” — children of Baby Boomers) to Millenials (those growing up as Y2K occurred).

And now the ultimate Peter Pan of television networks, MTV, decided that the generation that never knew dial-up Internet or land lines or a time before microwave cooking should be called “Founders.”

According to an article about MTV’s naming on

Research is beginning to show that teenagers today are more pragmatic and independent than their millennial predecessors. They’re more likely to stand out than fit in. They’re digital natives who don’t know a time before being constantly plugged in. And they’re part of the most diverse generation in history, a generation that will soon be as coveted among marketers as millennials.

I think the term “digital natives” might be the most important among all the marketing speak.

I refuse to think of myself as a cantankerous old man demanding kids get off my lawn, but MTV — which started in my generation as a channel that showed music videos non-stop — constantly reinvents itself to capture the youngest generation. It’s apparently having some trouble finding it right now.

And that’s easy to understand why.

Digital Natives are not plugging into cable or satellite television — no matter how many YouTube stars get development deals. Digital Natives live online — on their mobile devices, watching short-form content.

The attention span is no longer 30 minutes. Entertainment better be packaged in less than 10 and grab you in a few seconds.

The name “founders” makes me think of “founding fathers.” In other words, old. So much further from the true nature of the Digital Natives that MTV attempted to invoke.

MTV, you try too hard.

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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at You can follow him on Twitter at and see more about his professional experience at Reach him via e-mail at

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