No more than Skins deep: how a direct Remake misses the opportunities presented by a Remix

Zaac pointed me in the direction of the above this morning.  it's the trailer for MTV America's remake of the UK's beloved Skins.  as someone who watched and loved the show it makes for strange viewing.  on one hand the new cast and setting looks strikingly different.  but after a while the similarities between the above and the original UK version become not just clear but blindingly obvious.

the car going into the water.  the quick edit phone conversation.  taking to one's own genitals.  even the back garden (yard now) trampoline.  all conspire to indicate that this is a clean remake of the show.  something which, if true, presents not only a missed opportunity but a huge failing of producing.

a missed opportunity, in that the best adaptations of shows for US audiences haven't been remakes but remixes.  same show, different culture.  think about how The Office transferred from Slough to Scranton, or how the boys from Manchester evolved into a very different Queer as Folk Baltimore.  great remakes, or should I say remixes, protect and nurture the truth of a show whilst mixing in a new culture and society's perspectives and nuances.

Office_uk The_office_us from Slough to Scranton – same Office, very different culture

Queer_as_folk_UK Queer_as_folk_US from Manchester to Baltimore – same, err, well totally different actually…

that "the remix is the very nature of digital", is of course now so widely held to be true that it's almost too obvious to quote it.  but Gibson's elegant maxim is too often ignored.  by TV makers and brands alike.  just as in the case of TV shows that fail to capitalise on the opportunities that a remix affords, how many global ads do we see land on the screens of shores a far cry from their (often European or American) origins?  or worse, dubbed out of their native tongue, so that we are sold to by smiling fresh-faced lip-synced avatars…

the pressure to create ads that can be deployed across a multitude of regions leads to centrally developed, but often locally less-relevant communications.  distinctiveness in communications is key – it mitigates misattribution and builds brand cues that extend the return of a media investment out of the short term and into the longer term.  simply deploying a global property locally is no guarantee of success.

this presents a problem for TV producers and brands alike … a problem that, for the latter, will only be exacerbated by a shift away from broadcast interruption as the de-facto method for audience reach, towards a two-way content and community-led platform that seeks to engage an audience.

MTV's gamble with Skins – to create what looks like a remake rather than a genuine remix – should give pause for thought for marketers.  to what extent are we acting in a brand's best interests by picking up and redeploying content into a country – and culture – for which it wasn't designed?  how many opportunities are missed, and investment wasted, by failing to reflect the nuances of a culture with whom you seeking to engage?

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