"We had come up with a logo for $1000, the MTV logo that you see today with an offbeat, downtown company called Manhattan Design… We made up 10 or 12 versions of it and said it's going to be a container. We're going to fill it and change it; it's going to have whiskers on it and there's going to be eels in it and it's going to look like nothing they've ever seen before. We took it to Benton & Bowles, to Ogilvy & Mather, and I can remember the creative director saying, 'you can't use this; it breaks every rule of corporate identity. You need a logo that's consistent.' We fired the agency. It became one of the most iconic logos in the history of not just television logos, but of anything."
About This Interview
In his three-hour Archive interview, Tom Freston discusses his early years and education, and his first professional job in advertising, which he left after two years. He recalls traveling through Europe and Asia before starting a lucrative clothing export business in Afghanistan and India, and returning to the United States to get into the music industry. He talks about being offered a job at the newly formed Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment Company, where he was made head of marketing for the proposed new music cable channel, MTV. Freston details the creation of MTV and its branding, the business of selling the channel to cable systems, and the eventual growth of MTV into a cable powerhouse. He recounts some of the hits spawned by the network, including The Real World, The Osbournes, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Total Request Live. He also chronicles his rise to CEO of MTV Networks (1987-2004), a company which included Nickelodeon and VH1, and what eventually became known as Comedy Central. He describes Viacom's acquisition of the network, his rise to Co-President of Viacom (2004-2006), and his current work as a consultant for the launch of OWN. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview in Beverly Hills, CA on April 6, 2011.