Forget TV

When one thinks of building a brand, the first medium that comes to mind is television - particularly for packaged goods advertisers.
I believe radio can be just as effective a medium and here's why:
It has to do with how people consume the medium. They're loyal to their radio stations.

When one thinks of building a brand, the first medium that comes to mind is television – particularly for packaged goods advertisers.

I believe radio can be just as effective a medium and here’s why:

It has to do with how people consume the medium. They’re loyal to their radio stations.

You wake up in the morning to the same station every day on your clock radio. In your car you might flip between two and three stations. Usually the same station is on every day at your place of work. But as much as TV stations have tried to brand themselves, I doubt anyone ever says they’re going to watch CTV tonight. Rather, they would say, I’m going to watch The West Wing.

Secondly, no other medium enjoys a personality cult as much as radio. By this I mean the strength of on-air radio jocks. Don’t underestimate their power with their listeners.

Let me give you an example of what I mean and how this can work for you.

In my checkered past I had the good fortune to work on the Fleischmann’s yeast brand. At first blush I’m sure that you are thinking, oh yawn, what a low-interest category.

Fleischmann’s was having its proverbial clock cleaned by a new entry in the market and was losing share fast. It would have been easy to produce a TV spot with lots of sexy package shots and showing our yeast rising bread higher than the other guys.

The agency, Carder Gray Advertising, took a different approach. It capitalized on the strength of radio to regain share.

In those days, between 60% and 70% of all yeast sold in this country was sold on the Prairies. It was purchased and used mainly by women, including many in the farming communities outside the major population centres. Also, it’s important to note the pride these women took in their baking abilities.

So we hit the road and went local. After all, nobody knows a market better than its radio station. They attend and create community events. They work with local retailers and we wanted to meet them.

I suppose you know what is coming next – we used the stations to create events in their communities. All we had to give away were branded oven mitts and a grand prize in each market of a microwave oven that could be used for baking.

We were amazed! Here are some examples of the creative, grassroots promotions that stations organized for us.

In many markets, stations worked with a grocery retailer to display the microwave oven, put up signage and throw in an end-aisle for Fleischmann’s – at no charge!

One market hosted a trade-in. Bring in your oldest and dirtiest oven mitts in exchange for a ‘branded’ new pair. This was followed by a bake-off, using our brand only, and judged by the town’s mayor.

Another market hosted several bake-offs judged by on-air personalities. The winning recipe was added to a local restaurant menu, with appropriate credit given.

Several markets published cookbooks made up of recipes sent in by listeners, using our client’s product.

Those are just a few examples of stations working hard within their markets.

The results? Fleischmann’s not only regained share but surpassed all objectives.

It is important to note here that radio was the sole medium used. It was so successful that it was repeated several times, each time showing significant growth.

During my career, I have seen many radio campaigns be successful for both packaged and non-packaged goods advertisers. Why were the good ones successful? The stations involved were trusted to know their listeners. We didn’t dictate promotions or centralize them. We only gave stations objectives and prizing and then let them run with it. They were passionate, creative and local in their perspective. In each successful case, they brought the brand to the community.

Looking to the future, I would love to see some ‘product of the month’ executions, more DJ testimonials, more local business tie-ins, and less fear from the packaged goods community.

Take a leap of faith, have clear objectives and, if done right, radio can help build your brand.

Tammy Silny is now media director at Toronto-based Bimm Communications Group. She can be reached at (416) 960-2430 ext. 3323 or tsilny@bimm.com.