Radio is brilliant when strategically employed

'How do they get money for radio?'...

‘How do they get money for radio?’

My son, target demo extraordinaire (9 1/2), is typically very aware of advertising and its symbiotic relationship to media. But, for some reason, radio ads were, well, less visible on his radar. Perhaps it’s the longer windows of uninterrupted programming and the amount of time DJs spend touting their own promos that makes them blend better.

While radio doesn’t have the glam status of TV, it does demand talent to do it well. Arguably the stakes are higher, due to the very personal relationship listeners have with their radio stations. The radio revenue question came up when my offspring protested my treachery in switching his radio station (kiddy pop), due to questionable lyrics, over to my station (alternative, whose lyrics may be equally objectionable but are less comprehensible). Such station loyalty has a huge upside, if – like Goodyear’s long-running campaign (see page 23) – you can tap into the kinship people feel for their presets. The dark side of radio is that for all the spots that don’t quite deliver, you’re likely ticking people off more deeply than with most TV or print assignations. Unfunny comedy may be the worst, followed (and it’s a close second) by repetitive campaigns that have no entertainment value (like interviews with co. presidents).

There’s also the Juicy Fruit factor (using radio for all the right reasons). A multi-faceted Juicy Fruit ‘Gotta Have Sweet’ campaign in the U.S. tagged on its first radio component with Radio Disney early this year – one reason being, kids and moms were in their cars, likely near some gum-purveying venue. Radio is brilliant when the immediacy of its call-in/call-to-action ongoing instant-gratification format is strategically deployed.

On the topic of instant gratification, kudos go out this issue to two new marketing wrinkles that will furrow the competitions’ brows:

Blame it on happy meals. With whole generations of consumers weaned on purchases swayed by free stuff, it’s no wonder the points-earning stakes has hit a new high: cash. Equity Retirement Rewards new RRSP contribution-earning loyalty program (see Direct + Interactive) is poised to win true allegiance, especially given the number of programs out there which (like air miles, which can be fairly baffling to mere mortals trying to travel over holidays) have more hurdles and less allure than cash. Sign me up.

Another innovative loyalty program mentioned this issue – the next gen offspring of the secret decoder ring in a cereal box – is Montreal-based Provigo’s ‘Reveal Cards’ which reveal prizes hidden in flyers; the invisible caches may only be seen by viewing through the card. Now that’s a loyalty program which appeals to one’s inner James Bond (or Q) – and you get free stuff.

This issue, Strategy has a few plot twists of its own. Due to the growth potential of the market sector, Strategy editor David Bosworth has stepped over to helm Direct + Interactive, and new Strategy team members will be announced shortly. New to the content lineup this issue is ‘What Were They Thinking?’, a feature that delves into the strategy behind controversial and ground-breaking feats of marketing. If you have questions about a campaign unfolding around you, feel free to suggest topics. We’re also looking for input in our Tech File dept. If you witness or mastermind innovative harnessing of technology for the greater good of marketing-kind, share with our technology reporter Bernadette Johnson And no, there’s no free stuff in it for you…

cheers, mm

Mary Maddever