Tuesday 16 October 2012

Breaking News…Looper Is Missing…!

One of the checklist items of movie promotions is SMS/online contests, which win you movie merchandize or meet ’n’ greet with the cast or movie tickets or … <placeholder for anything else that one can imagine J>. So the same elements were at play prior to the release of Holly flick Looper on Indian screens on October 12, 2012.
I responded to one of the two options against the question, “Who plays OLD JOE in Looper?” flashed on television channel ABP News, on Thursday October 11, 2012, 11:17 PM. I knew it was Bruce Willis and immediately typed YES A (YES B, if option B was the right answer) and sent it to the short code 5782728. Now came the Looper moment which gave me a jolt, yes it was, the response text from 5782728 read from the past…when Looper was not born!
“Thank you for becoming Star Ananda Privileged Fan! We will keep you informed about important news, breaking news alerts on your mobile. Keep watching Star Ananda.”
Not a single mention about the contest! I wanted to shout out loud that;
·         I DID NOT TEXT to become a Star Ananda Privileged Fan!
·         I don’t want to be kept informed about important news, breaking news alerts ON MY MOBILE
·         Keep watching Star Ananda WHY? FOR WHAT?
It’s true that I engaged with the channel during random surf, but the context of the engagement was a movie contest and nothing else. What I expected was a response aligned to the context of the contest, “Thank you for your participation in the contest. Winners will be announced shortly. Logon to … for terms and conditions…”
A typical condition laid out in the agreement between the Telco and the short code provider for provisioning the short code into Telco’s network is, the short code provider will not push any kind of promotional messages either as add on or stand alone, to a corresponding pull SMS. To de-jargonize, in the present context, what I sent to 5782728 was a pull and the response I received was a push SMS.
The response text from ABP News was nothing but a promotional SMS, albeit a deficient one! It also fell short of aligning the response text to the purpose for which the SMS was sent.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Hi! This Is … and You Are Listening to…

We are all used to hearing station identifiers on radio. Hi this is … and you are listening to … Sometimes these identifiers are station jingles or familiar (celebrity) voices which identify the station. They also come in a slightly different flavor as celebrity omnibus in which more than one voice identifies the station.
Earlier, I never paid attention to these station identifiers, but on Oct 3, 2012 I did, at around 7:17 PM. Not because it was the famous bolly actor Sallu Bhai (Salman Khan) who told me what station I was listening to, but I was more interested in listening to the song that followed this station identifier. The song that followed was Karde Mushkil Jeena Ishq Kameena from the bolly flick Shakti (2002).
After listening to the song, I was wondering what relation the song had with the immediately preceding station identifier in Salman’s voice. The film neither had Salman in its cast nor was the song filmed on him.
Being unaware of the rules/policy employed by the stations in the linear placement of celebrity identifiers on the timeline for the day, I thought whether the identifier has to meet my expectation of confirming to the immediately succeeding song? A mental rewind of identifiers heard in the past, gave me two commonalities.
One, it identifies what the station stands for: In the present case, this radio station primarily stands for bolly music. Having an identifier in a bolly star’s voice, establishes the association.
Two, it identifies what the day part stands for: In the present case, since it was evening, during which contemporary bolly numbers are played by this station, the said identifier came across as appropriate.
Save for few exceptions, celebrity identifiers are not exclusive to a station. Sallu bhai may happily identify other stations as well. As the name implies, the station identifier is meant to identify the station and not a song.
However, if the identifier relates to the immediately succeeding song, this radio station will definitely identify itself amongst its peers for its attention to detail.

Monday 24 September 2012

Do Holiday Notices Provide Monetization Opportunity to Publishers?

Most of the offices and business establishments in India declared a holiday on September 19, 2012 on account of Ganesh Chaturthi. It was not unusual to spot Holiday Notices on print dailies saying that the press will remain closed on September 19, 2012 and there will be no edition on September 20, 2012.

I also found a holiday notice on one of the daily online media and marketing portal, mxmindia.com, this was unusual for me. Here is the URL for the same.
When I saw the holiday notice on the portal, it struck me, yeah, why not, internet may be 24 X 7, but the content is being fed by real folks and not machines and if the folks are not around, the content won’t be refreshed on a holiday. I should admit, unlike print media, my brain was not trained to see a holiday notice on an online media, and it was a first for me to see it on mxmindia.com.
I thought, is there an opportunity for the media owners to monetize these holiday notices? Maybe these guys were closed on September 19, 2012, but there is a category which has its shop open 24 X 7, for example, online shopping portals.

I thought about the possibility of media owners cutting an annual deal for such ‘no edition days’ with online shopping portals. Think about it, if in a year, they have 10 ‘no edition days’, and on each such occasion they do a floating ad with the imagery of the online shopping portal accompanied with a smart copy, for example, “Our offices are closed today on the occassion of ‘…’ and the news stories will be refreshed tomorrow, but look who’s open today?”, this may not be the best example of a smart copy, but just to give you an idea.
As a media owner one achieves the following:
·         Communicate the new and repeat visitors not to expect the fresh stories today (on a holiday).
·         Monetize the holiday notice which otherwise was just a holiday notice.

Will print and online media monetize the Holiday Notices?
And, as an online shopping portal one gets an opportunity to put their brand for 10 days in a year on one such portal, probably at a price that is lower than the regular price.
Coming back to the example of the print ad pictured above, I don’t know whether print publications or even for that matter mxmindia will monetize holiday notices, and even if they do, will the advertisers go for it? Have they (both advertisers and media owners) overlooked this media property? Doesn’t seem so..., not sure!
They say, “There’s a butt for every seat”. For an advertiser who can’t afford an expensive media, it can be a dream proposition. Do you agree?

I’ll look forward to hear your thoughts on this one, please leave your kind comments on this post.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

PowerPoint for Kids!

Three triggers contributed to this post:
First, ‘Monica Tata on 6 reasons why running a kids’ channel is no child’s play’*. In this article Ms. Tata opined that 48% of parents exercise control on the content watched by their kids and one of the ways to expand the viewership is by creating content that appeals to the adults as well.
*Source: MxMIndia.com , Monica Tata is General Manager, Entertainment Networks, South Asia, Turner International India Pvt Ltd.
Second, M.A.D., a popular program, telecast on POGO, a channel owned by Turner, in this show, the program anchor, Rob, takes the audience, which I believe are both kids and adults, on a creative trip. The show is about art and craft.
Third, Inclusion of MS Office Application suite in school syllabus, this underscores the importance of such software, as most of our adult lives revolve around working with Office Application Software, be it presenting a topic given as a group-work to the class by the instructor, or making presentations as a part of the B-School curriculum, or as a professional making the PowerPoint presentations for internal or external stakeholders.
So what’s the big deal? Is there a programming opportunity?
If Office Application Suite has become so integral to our lives, why aren’t we starting early on this journey? Can someone like Rob (or Rob himself) create the same magic on the PowerPoint canvas? I am sure, like me, there are many others whose job involves loads of PowerPoint. Be it presenting a cause and effect relationship of a business process or just putting together a graphical representation of an arcane concept. Sometimes, one feels stymied by the lack of the creative genius in themselves in creating original images using the basic shapes and tools available in PowerPoint. 
Do the programming honchos of kids channel feel that teaching creativity on television using this ubiquitous software will make for a good show? No prizes for guessing the sponsors who can be roped for such a program (no…it’s not just the software vendor, it could even be the computer or printer manufacturers…or even the nutrition supplements containing BHA, PXT or whatever). Such a show makes for a good repeat value with syndication opportunities in other markets as well as episodes available on DVDs as a learning aid.
Will adults approve their kids to see such a program? I’m not gonna miss even a single episode!
Disclaimer: All company, brand and product name/logos mentioned/depicted in this post are trademarks of their respective holders/individual parent companies.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Which car engine makes that sound?

The idea for this post came about today morning, when I was half asleep in the office bus, on my way to work.
While being driven to work in a bus, sleep happens in short sprints. Sitting next to the window seat and upon realizing that the morning breeze is no longer sweeping across your face it dawns upon you that the bus is not moving, you keep your eyes closed for some time and then half opening them, you look out from the corner of your eyes to see why the bus is not moving, where you’ve reached and the time you still have on your hand for another quick nap in the bus. Usual interruptions are the sounds of traffic on the signal or in a traffic jam. Sometimes it is just the whooshing sound of vehicles whizzing past yours or someone suddenly breaking to a screeching halt which wakes you up.
During these occurrences, while your visual faculties are overpowered by the urge to take a nap, somehow your aural faculties are still ticking. One may have earplugs plugged in to their ears listening to local radio or music from their mobile phone/portable music player, or the music is being played out from the loudspeakers in the bus (this option does not apply to me, as we have a very spartan bus service), the ambient sounds in the bus, of folks boarding at designated pick up points (sounds of their backpacks rubbing against the backrest of the seats while moving down the aisle and looking for vacant seats or ‘excuse me’, ‘can you shift’ etc.), sound of the bus engine or lastly the sounds on the road from, hawkers, honking from the vehicles, vehicles whizzing past your bus, folks revving the engine on traffic signals, etc…
Though your nasal senses also absorb the environment around you…let’s leave it out for now J
But how does all this lends itself to a business opportunity?
I’ll regress to my earlier post, Pappu Pass Ho Gaya!, where I mentioned about the contest ‘Who said to whom’. In this contest a short dialogue is played from a bollywood movie and the listeners have to text, who said this dialogue to whom and the name of the movie. Taking a spin on this contest on radio, what if who and whom are vehicle sounds instead of bollywood celebrities! The vehicle sounds could be sounds of their engines or the car horn and the listeners have to identify the make of the vehicle.
Another spin to the contest can be two sounds of the same vehicle make…one that is brand new and another which is, say 03 years old. In fact the core idea is the vehicle sound, irrespective of whether it is a two wheeler or a four wheeler. How the concept is packaged and presented is up to the creative discretion of the radio station.
Ideal sponsors of this contest could be engine oil/auto lubricant manufacturers, auto service providers, auto dealerships, etc.
The idea is not outlandish…a quick Google search with the search string ‘engine sound application’, returns umpteen results of mobile phone applications which playback engine sounds and facts/trivia about engine sounds. There is also a mobile app which produces official Ferrari engine sound!
Even as kids, on our way to school, it was a common amongst us to quiz our pals to identify the vehicle coming behind us by just listening to its sound…!
I believe every one of us have developed auditory discrimination skills at a sub-conscious level during our growing years or as part of our daily experiences…isn’t it time that this human capability is leveraged by radio stations, thus generating a better recall for their clients!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Fulfillment First…!

The two words in the title of this post signify three things:
Fulfillment: How an effective fulfillment imprints a positive impression on the consumers.
First: A “first” I achieved.
Fulfillment First: The importance of placing the fulfillment strategy before anything else… if your grand plan does not ensure effective fulfillment to your consumer then, what was the plan?
Friday, 20 July 2012MxMindia launches the first edition of MxMIndia’s weekly media quiz, titled “Buzzer”. First prize INR 1001 and second prize INR 501 to be won every week.
Friday, 27 July 2012 – It’s time for second edition of the quiz, Buzzer#2, but what about the winners of Buzzer#1? Winners are individually contacted over their phone, by none other than the Editor-in-Chief and CEO of MxMIndia Private Limited at 8:00 AM sharp. How do I know, because I won the second prize in the first edition of the contest, a “first” I achieved! Check out the screen grab of the winner announcement which appeared on 27 July 2012 on MxMIndia. As mentioned in the winner announcement and as told by Mr. Pradyuman Maheshwari, ‘Await our mail’…
Sunday, 29 July 2012 – …I received a mail from Mr. Maheshwari formally informing about winning the second prize and a cash cheque for INR 501. Now comes the fulfillment part… I was given two options, either provide my address and get the cheque couriered on the said address or provide my bank account number, name, and branch for the cheque to be deposited in the said account, for instant gratification. How do I know the cheque will be deposited…I read the next line of the mail…"we’ll email you a stamped receipt…”. Now, that wowed me!
Monday, 06 August 2012 – As promised, I received the scanned copy of stamped receipt.
The overall experience just awed me. I was kept informed at each stage after being declared a winner with proactive communication from the contest organizer. MxMIndia realized that winners can be across India and accordingly their choice of prize(s), ensured easy and speedy fulfillment. As I opined in my earlier post, 15 Minutes of Fame…Reloaded!, I am happy with both the value and satisfaction delivered by the cash prize and instead of someone else deciding on the winner’s behalf, I am happy to choose for myself with the prize money.
Wishing loads of success to MxM Buzzer and hope that it keeps buzzing for times to come!

Saturday 30 June 2012

100 Years of Journey

Apart from unrestrained access to great music, one of the joys of working with a music label is to track brand movements from one agency to another. If this seems unrelated to what music labels typically do, I suggest you to check out my earlier 4 part series, “What’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement?
Circa 2009, Samsonite was about to complete 100 years of the brand, and I was in touch with the creative agency which was handling the Samsonite account to pitch the songs and sounds from our catalogue that signified and conjured the images of a journey. The idea was to utilize these in ads commemorating the centennial celebrations of the brand and to release a limited edition Samsonite branded compilation, which the brand could distribute to its trade and consumers.
We also suggested our colleagues at Home Video division to pitch movie titles to the brand owner/agency in which brand Samsonite was visible (as in-film placement) or titles which had an element of journey such as “The Terminal”. The idea was to create a package of Home Video Titles with Samsonite branding on the cover, for distribution to its trade and consumers by the brand.
As I write this post, I don’t recall how the brand engaged with the medium of radio for its centennial celebrations in India, but in hindsight, I feel that it was an apt opportunity to create an interesting property on radio to engage the listeners with brand Samsonite in a manner which did not sound like an advertisement!
Questions based on the scenes from the prominent bolly (for example, SRK starrer “My Name is Khan” had an in-film placement of Samsonite) and holly films where Samsonite has been used, questions about the evolution of luggage or jingles from the earlier commercials of the brand, would have made an engaging contest property for the duration of the campaign. This did not entail any production costs, but only the cost of media and contest gratifications, when radio jockey read the live copy each time they posed a new question about the brand, on their segment.
Questions based on the facts and figures that established the brand legacy and attributes, like, “Identify this famous 2004 movie, a love story between xyz and abc, which also starred a Samsonite.” or, “Samsonite was known by what name when it was first launched in 1910?” or, “Out of the three, which one can Samsonite case withstand: a direct impact from an ant, a tortoise or a truck?”
Luggage is intrinsic to life milestones and there are innumerable stories associated with our luggage. Think about it, it’s not a luggage or carry case or travel gear…it is what I call A LIFE GEAR. If given a chance and a prop, everyone has a story to narrate. I have a story about my luggage I carried when I went to the hostel for the first time, someone would have a story around luggage when shifting house for the first time, a woman would have a story around it when she would have moved in to her in-laws house for the first time, a student would have a story about things they carry in their backpack…, prompting listeners to narrate such life stories and associated memories, sticks like a Velcro in the mind!
Check out Samsonite100…would have loved to hear such stories on-air during a relaxing drive back home!

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Connecting the Dots…

Sometimes connecting certain dots in an industry eco-system throws up patterns similar to a kaleidoscope. Certain patterns spark thoughts which might earn incremental revenues or create an offering that differentiates one from the competition. Today I picked up three dots.
The first dot – Brands that advertise on radio
The radio ad of Dominos Pizza is on-air for some time and I heard it even today. Three things that stuck in my mind after listening to it over the campaign duration are; they want me to buy their pizzas more often, the ad mentions Namma Bengaluru (My Bangalore) and has something to do with, what I like about Bangalore and third is that one of the voices in the ad belong to RJ Darius from 104 FM Fever Bangalore. I am not sure about the last bit, but if I have heard RJ Darius enough, I am sure the voice in the ad that says Namma Christ College Da belongs to RJ Darius. Darius if you read this post, please correct me if I am wrong.
It is not uncommon to hear radio ads featuring voices of station’s on-air talent. This could be because the station also offers the services of radio ad production for a fee or gratis, based on the deal with the advertiser.
The second dot – Driving listener engagement through on-air contests/off-air, web based contests
My earlier posts Crude Shock, Bollywood Bingo etc., contain examples of such on-air contest mechanics. Example of off-air web based contest is where the listener identifies the voice or content/ title (e.g. who said this dialogue and in which film?) from the audio clip and mark one of the options as the right answer. This could be hosted on the social media profile of the radio station/ Radio Jockey or the station website.
The third dot – What value add one can offer to the advertiser on a radio station
According to the recent forecast for year 2012 by media buyer Group M, advertising revenues of radio will lag behind those of TV, Print, Digital and Outdoor. Digital’s share of advertising will rise to INR 1,969 crore in 2012, overtaking outdoor (INR 1,841 crore) and establishing a clear lead over radio (INR 1,618 crore). To make matters worse, the radio station or for that matter any media is asked by the advertiser/media buyer…so what value add you’re giving to sweeten the deal!
Connecting the Dots: Enkindle the past, energize the present and entice the future.
Enkindling the past:
Dear Past Advertiser,
[P1] In the xyz segment we have launched a new contest property titled “Who’s the RJ”. The listeners will be played an audio clip in which one of the voices belongs to our station RJ. The audio clip will be played thrice during the segment. The listeners have to text the right answer and one of the lucky listeners to get it right, wins goodies.
[P2] In the past we had produced an ad for you in which our RJ had lent the voice. We would like to include that .30s ad in this contest dated dd/mm/yyyy.
[P3] This is an ideal opportunity for your brand message to reach out to our listeners once again, without you committing a campaign. This opportunity comes to you for INR xyz/- , which also includes the cost of gratification.
Energizing the present:
Dear Present Advertiser,
Retain [P1].
[P2] Our RJ has lent the voice in ad we produced for your current campaign. We would like to include that ad in the contest dated dd/mm/yyyy.
[P3] As a token of our thanks, this opportunity comes to you without any charge. However, we request you to provide for contest gratification.
Enticing the present:
Well you would have got it by now :-) What you would have also figured out is that one can also plug in-house ads of radio stations promoting their various segments.
There are no templates in sales and probably this could be an opportunity for a station to serve the interests of its advertisers, listeners and itself!

Thursday 21 June 2012

Who’s the Singer, Lyricist, Composer…

Ms. Shubha Mudgal, recently tweeted, “Appeal to the music lovers. Please, let’s ask FM stations in India to start announcing credits for music they play. They hardly ever do so”.
My Two Cents
I agree with what Ms. Mudgal has to say. As a listener, there are times when I like a particular song on radio, and instinctively the question pops in my mind..."Which movie…?", though it’s difficult to define the degree of likeness, but based on how much one appreciates the song on-air, the next questions are who is the singer, composer, etc.
Television broadcast of songs on popular music channels usually include three lines of customary credits which include Name of the Song, Name of the Film and Music Label, shown once at the beginning and later towards end of the song (depending upon the policy adopted by the channel). Television being a media that engages both visual and aural faculties, display of customary credits once the song is rolling does not eat into the air time of the TV Channel.
From the perspective of the radio business owner, announcing customary credits or acknowledging singer, composer, lyricist, film etc. at the beginning of each song shrinks precious real estate of the station, the AIR TIME. Assuming acknowledgements are not read out in a manner in which disclaimers are read towards the end of ads featuring mutual fund products…”Mutual fund investments are subject to market risks, please read the offer document carefully before investing”…(read out in two seconds flat!), it will take the station jockey at least 10 seconds to acknowledge the four parameters of film, lyricist, composer and singer. Assuming a station plays 10 – 12 songs in an hour, it is a hit of approximately 2 minutes on the valuable inventory (AIR TIME) of the station.
If the listening pleasure is not being compromised by the lack of ‘meta data’ for each song, is it worth for the station to read it out? I say no! It’s not that credits are ‘never’ given to any song. Being an avid listener of two hindi radio stations in Bangalore, I can vouch that new songs that debut on these stations are given due credits. Even for existing ones, a random sampling usually throws up a pattern like: RJ Talk > Up coming Back to Back Song Pre-listen > Occasional mention of film name > Commercial Break > Back to Back Songs.
Though as a practice, instutionalization of customary credits on contemporary FM radio stations sounds more like state owned radio broadcasts, which fortunately are not strained by commercial considerations but rather on how to deploy the monetary grants, unlike private FM broadcasters.
Today FM radio stations are not confined to on-air terrestrial presence. One can engage with them vide their mobile apps, website, WAP site and social media presence. A middle path, without compromising on commercial considerations, will be attribution of the song to its creators/performers, in an off-air environment.
Station websites can include names of the Lyricist, Composer and Singer in the Top 10/20/30/40 charts on their websites. Information on songs including attribution to its creators is a good conversation starter on the social media presence of the station and is a common practice on certain social media channels owned by FM stations.
So, why the fuss and why stations should be apologetic about this whole tweet thing?
Please share your thoughts on this!

Thursday 14 June 2012

What did IPL’12 give you?

The year 2012 has so far been serendipitous for me. Yup…I have been seeing cricket matches since my growing up years only to question myself after every match, what did I gain out of it?…and went back every time with the same gusto to catch the next tournament on television, as if I did not hear the question! I broke this loop sometime back when I almost stopped following cricket. Came April 2012 when IPL 2012…the sporting and marketing extravaganza, started with the same zest as the previous four seasons. Depending upon what senses of sight and sound one followed, everyone had opinions and expectations from the tournament, with the same devotion as past seasons, whether it were marketing portals discussing at length about expected TVRs or the business press pondering about why a 10 second spot should be priced equal or lesser or higher than last year.
Before committing my time to watch IPL 2012, I pro-actively asked myself, what’s in it for me. I asked, is the real estate of my brain worth keeping all those facts, statistics, schedules etc., when it does not generate anything in return, save for striking some small talk near the water cooler or in cafeteria?
Well this year, IPL 2012 rubbed off its infinitesimal bounty on me vide the humblest of all media…yup the teeny weeny radio. No, I did not have to remember anything about the game. I just had to be myself and participate in contests that revolved around the game.
The first contest I won was Super Six on 94.3FM Radio One. It was a simple concept. The listeners had to text SIX and if the SMS was sent in the over in which a six was hit, the listeners would win goodies. I won twice on this contest. The first time around it was a wrist watch and the second time around it was the party passes. (More on this in my earlier post 15 Minutes of Fame…Reloaded!).
Second time around, lady luck turned the dial to 104FM Fever on the segment, Fever Flashback hosted by RJ Rubina. Rubina, gave an invitation to all 104FM listeners to catch the finals of IPL 2012 at Amoeba Sports Bar on a large screen and have dinner with 104FM Fever RJs, but but but...the listeners had to give a compelling reason on why they should be given this chance. The following words did the magic for me and there I was at Amoeba on 27th May 2012 with my better half.
Facebook par face dekha hai, ab saamne dekhna hai,
Radio par baat karte huye suna hai, ab baat saath baith kar karni hai,
Rubina, IPL toh bahana hai...bas aapke saath ek baar baith kar khana khana hai
At the venue we learned that there were other 4 listeners who weaved a similar magic with their words on the station RJ J. We were joined by RJ Rubina and RJ Danish from 104FM Fever.
In between the chat, photo clicks and munchies…we rooted and hooted for our favorite teams and were also heard on-air when Rubina linked to the station from Amoeba.
It is something to read about and follow the RJs (or Radio Stars as Paul Chantler called them in the guest post Growing the Pizzazz) on Facebook and Twitter and a totally different experience to have a face to face interaction. You get to know them as a person, their likes and dislikes (not the facebook kind), what motivates them each day, what are their challenges, etc.
RJ Danish who earlier RJed at 105.4 Radio Spice, Dubai shared his experience on how radio as a medium is different in India compared to Dubai; the RJs he idolizes; whether the absence of radio audience measurement is a boon or bane for stations in Dubai…RJ Rubina talked about how it is doing a 9:00 PM show (Fever Flashback) and what TV soaps she cannot live without J
Net-net, it was a great contest gratification. Opportunities such as these help stations build equity and loyalty amongst its listeners and most important, get to know, who is listening them? We found 104FM Fever Radio Stars disposition quite humble and grounded and to borrow from the famous MasterCard ad…Drinks and Food @ Amoeba…INR XYZ.00/- …to sit, drink, eat and click pictures next to Radio Stars whose voices reach over a million listeners each day! PRICELESS..!!!

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Crude Shock!

The crude shock of hike in petrol prices by approximately INR 8.00/- hit at 00:00 Hrs on 24th May 2012, when it came into effect. Radio, a hyper local medium with its eardrums close to the ground, picked upon this theme and made me appreciate this medium…all over again. Radio has an uncanny ability to drape and color itself with local themes and engage its listeners. So, this is how the contests looked like on 24th May 2012.

94.3FM Radio One, Bangalore (Karnataka, India)
Who Said to Whom?
If you are wondering what this contest is all about, check out my earlier post, Pappu Pass Ho Gaya.
MJ Shilpa played a clip from the film Kal Ho Na Ho in which Aman Mathur (played by Shah Rukh Khan) tells his mother (played by Reema Lagoo) that he does not want to die.
The best part comes here…the RJ says that the petrol hike has even killed our bolly stars…that’s hilarious…J, I liked how a routine contest plug in the segment was mould into the theme of petrol price hike. It was not only this contest, the overall theme of the RJ talk revolved around petrol price hike.
Maximum Lies!
MJ Shilpa told three points related to petrol prices and Bangalore (I appreciate how Bangalore as a city was woven into this contest…that’s what I call local). The first point was, the prices have been hiked by approximately INR 8.00/-; second point was, Bangalore has the highest prices for petrol in India and the third point was, before the price hike per liter cost of petrol in Bangalore was INR 82.00/-.
No prizes for getting the right answer…I did not get one L…OK hold on…the third point was a lie.
However the gratification for the two contests was not aligned to the theme of the contest. Gratification for Who Said to Whom was a couple dinner voucher (OK, I admit…its closer to fuel…after all food is fuel for homo sapiensJ) and for Maximum Lies it was beauty treatment vouchers valued at INR 7,500/- (hmm…the same value in cash would have bought at least 90 liters of petrol! and cushioned the effect of price hike…but think about it…if you look beautiful chances are you’ll be offered a ride…thus you save fuel!)
104FM Radio One, Bangalore (Karnataka, India)
Later in the day when I tuned to Fever Flashback @ 9:00 PM hosted by RJ Rubina…I could smell the petrol! One had to guess the name of the music director whose birthday was being celebrated by the station. The clue was the songs played by the station composed by this music director. Well, it was Rajesh Roshan’s Birthday on 24th May 2012. And you know what was the gratification…petrol vouchers worth…INR 1,000/-  !!!
I was late to answer, my answer text missed the target, but opportunity came again…the listeners were given a second chance, but this time it was tough…they had to call 44104104/text 9986104104 citing reason why they deserve to win the petrol voucher.
Here’s the sad part and I lived the idiom slip between the lip and the cup. I texted Rubina with the message…I own a two wheeler, therefore,  I’ll be able to squeeze the maximum value out of the voucher compared to car owners and the voucher will take care of my whole month’s fuel expenses.
Guess what…my text was selected by Rubina and I had to say the same thing on-air…but that’s when the Vodafone doggy ditched me…I was on the Bangalore Elevated Tollway Ltd (BETL) road going towards Silk Board…when the signal got lost…shock after shock! Crude shock followed by signal shock!
What happened…she picked up another winner!
But what I liked was, she called me back after sometime to console and wished better luck next time, this upped my Happiness Index (which otherwise was dipped by the hike in fuel prices)!
Given my terrestrial and language limitations (I cannot appreciate the radio content played in non-Hindi or English language and since am based in Bangalore, I do not know what radio folks are doing in say Chennai or Mumbai!), I was curious to know what other FM stations are playing on the petrol hike theme. Long live google! Here’s a brief glimpse.
92.7FM BIG FM, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India)
Listeners answer questions related to petrol, inflation and other such topics to win petrol vouchers worth Rs 927/-. Click here for a lowdown on this story.
98.3FM Radio Mirchi, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India)
Radio Mirchi gave away bicycles to lucky listeners for an easier, better and eco-friendly commute. Click here for a lowdown on this story.
So, what do I think?
On the dimensions of relevance of the theme to the contest format, gratification and user engagement/interactivity, I’ll order it as Radio Mirchi, Fever, Big and Radio One. To preempt criticism of my opinion, please understand this is what I feel and is my opinion, you are free to express yours…nothing more nothing less…have fun.
Before I conclude, lady luck has shown her benevolence once again and I’ll let you know how and where I got to watch the DLF IPL Finals on 27th May 2012.
Keep tuned!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Pappu Pass Ho Gaya!

Over time I have realized that listening to radio is nothing short of a stroll in a busy marketplace. Akin to how merchants change the wares displayed in shop windows in line with the season, festival or other topical themes, same happens in radio or for that matter on any other media. The programming wears the skin of the season and the same merchants descend on mass media singing virtues about how their wares are flavor of the season.
Listening to a segment on radio station 94.3FM Radio One, I realized that it’s been over a decade since I passed my 12th Standard Examinations. MJ Shilpa hosts the segment from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and prompts her listeners to participate in two exciting contests during this period. Well what are these two contests…?
Maximum Lyrics: Listeners are played a short clip of a popular Bollywood song with part of it muted. The listeners have to text the muted lyrics to win goodies.
Maximum Lies: Listeners are told three points about a Bollywood flick, viz actor, actress…or anything that is Bolly! One of the three statements told by MJ Shilpa is false. The listeners have to text which statement was false, 1st, 2nd or 3rd to win goodies.
Today when I tuned to this segment, both the contests were woven around the theme of exams. Why? Well, today Karnataka Pre-University board announced the 12th Standard Examination Results! So instead of Maximum Lyrics, todays first contest was about Who said to whom, wherein a short dialogue was played from a film and the listener had to text who said this dialogue to whom and the name of the movie. The dialogue was from the movie Munnabhai MBBS in which Munna (played by Sanjay Dutt) tells Dr Suman (played by Gracy Singh) that he has topped the exam!
The second contest Maximum Lies was about three points from the story of the movie 3 Idiots. 3 Idiots was based on the concept of unforgiving nature of the education system and society towards failures and non-conformists.
With almost a third of FM listenership contributed by 12 – 19 and 20 – 24 years old, and education being among the top advertisers on radio, no doubt, it’s an important segment to cater to. Last night on another radio station 104FM Fever, I liked Darius saying, “no matter what’s the result, you still have another 60 years of life ahead of you, so don’t do anything drastic…exam results are not the end of the world”.
So, I brace myself for an advertising spree, offers from youth fashion retailers giving discounts equivalent to the marks one has scored, chocolatiers urging to have some meetha (sweet)…uff!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Bollywood Bingo!

Contesting is in the air, especially after my earlier posts Piggy Bank of Ideas and 15 Minutes of Fame…Reloaded! I have been observing…oops listening to contests (and participating too…) on this radio station, 94.3FM Radio One (Bangalore) which won me a handful of goodies. On 14th May 2012, on the birthday of yesteryears Bollywood actress Waheeda Rehman, 94.3FM Radio One kicked off a new game show BOLLYWOOD BINGO anchored by MJ Pavithra.

What’s the Concept?
Sometime in late March/early April 2012, 94.3FM Radio One called out its listeners to be a part of Listener Audience Bureau (LAB). As mentioned by MJ Pavithra, the idea of Bollywood Bingo, a music based game show came from LAB.
What’s the Name?
Haven’t I revealed it already? To recap, it’s BOLLYWOOD BINGO. One may also choose to call it MUSICAL TAMBOLA, BOLLYWOOD TAMBOLA or BOLLYWOOD HOUSIE.
How to Play?
Similar to a game of Bingo or Housie in which players mark off numbers on cards/printed tickets, as the numbers are drawn randomly by a caller and won by marking off all the numbers on the printed ticket,  Bollywood Bingo is played in the same manner. The Bollywood Bingo ticket can be obtained by sending a SMS to 53650. The call flow is:
Listener sends an SMS to 53650 with the message BINGO<space><Name>
Listener receives the BINGO ticket which reads as (example): BINGO 14-5-2012 18:33 1)London Paris New Y 2)Mitti Bol 3)Chammak Challo 4)Anarkali Disco Ch 5)Ajooba 6)Mudhi Mudhi Ittefa
14-5-2012, indicates that the ticket is valid for the show on 14th May 2012 and 18:33 is the time of issue of the ticket. Serial numbers 1, 2, 3…6 are the songs from Bollywood movies.
Game Play!
Once you have the ticket, you are set for the game. You have to listen to 94.3FM Radio One and as soon as the song that’s mentioned in your ticket is played by MJ Pavithra, you mark off that song on your ticket. Once all the songs on the ticket have been played on-air, you win, or else you don’t. The show airs from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Friday. The show started on 14th May 2012 and will be on up to 1st June 2012. Only those songs that are played between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM are to be marked off on the ticket. If 5 songs mentioned on the ticket are aired between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and the sixth song is played at 8:05 PM, you won’t win.
One can claim the tickets up to 7:30 PM. Tickets that are claimed post 07:30 PM are eligible for next day’s game. Now you know why the tickets are stamped with date and time! One can claim multiple tickets to increase the chance of winning, but remember, SMSes to 53650 are charged at INR 3.00/-
One concern that I had when I bought the ticket was, “gosh…I now have to be glued to the radio else I won’t know what songs have been played when I was not listening to it between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM”. The good thing about the show is that in each commercial break MJ Pavithra gives a recap of all the songs that have been played before that break. To break the monotony, aided by her BINGO software that tells her how many songs have been played out from each ticket, she puts the listeners, who await just 3 or 2 more songs to completely mark off all the songs on the ticket, on air.
What’s the Prize?
One winner each day gets Gold Vouchers worth INR 2000/- redeemable at Abaran.
So, what do I think?
I think it’s a good contest which increases time spent listening 94.3FM Radio One. For the sponsor, Abaran, it ensures that the store gets sampled by the listeners of Radio One when they go to redeem their vouchers. Abaran has been an advertiser on Radio One and vide this contest; the station generates tangible real time data (by way of number of SMSes received) to share with the sponsor. 
I would have appreciated if the station had put info on this segment on their website or social media, listing daily winners and songs played between 6:00 PM – 8:00 each day Monday to Friday from 14th May 2012 to 1st June 2012. This would relieve the listener to be stuck to a single station, but isn’t that the idea of the contest, increase time spent listening?
So what do you think? What’s your idea of a Bollywood Music Based show that engages the listener? Share your thoughts and wisdom, the comments box is just below this line J

Thursday 10 May 2012

First Birthday…

Time surely flies by! Just last week I realized that this blog’s anniversary is due on 10th May 2012. The very reason this 1st Anniversary post is going up is YOU, had it not been your kind comments, emails and points of view, I would not have been motivated to even notice that it’s been a year of this blog.
I Thank You for the time you took to read my posts and share your comments even when you yourselves are masters of your respective domains.
The occasion necessitates a first on this blog, so rather than my, I present you thoughts from across the border from one of the readers of this blog.
***cuing music and drumrolls***
Presenting, Paul Chantler, who tells us today how to grow the pizzazz. The post Growing the Pizzazz is written by Paul, and is the 1st guest post on the 1st anniversary of this blog. So, whatever you read below are Paul’s words and if you disagree with him even one bit…shoot him on chantler@aol.com (or if you cannot wait to write an email…quickly type your comments in the comments box)
Happy reading J!
Click here to read the post.

Growing the Pizzazz

by Paul Chantler

The privately-owned radio industry in India has grown enormously in a very short time. In the UK, commercial radio started nearly 40 years ago. In India, the same kind of growth has been compressed into a quarter of that time.
I congratulate the Indian government on its efficiency and enterprise in licensing so many new radio stations so quickly. I know there are hundreds more to come. And of course there is much more to do, both creatively and commercially, in order to exploit radio to its fullest potential.
Traditional radio remains relevant, even in a high-tech digital world full of increasing media choice. As UK newspaper The Guardian wrote recently, “The technology that is fragmenting other audiences and leaving some sectors in the doldrums is also making it easier and more pleasurable to listen to the radio.”
There are many issues that need to be addressed in the shaping of Indian radio in the future – music royalties, cost management, advertiser confidence, multiple formats and the prospect of digital radio. However there is one major issue that sometimes tends to get forgotten in the complexity and confusion of growth: the importance of CONTENT.
It seems to me Indian radio has done a fantastic job over the last few years raising standards and becoming highly professional. The biggest danger is when radio simply becomes a commodity; listeners just push a button and tune to another station when a song they dislike comes on. If radio is to reach a level where listeners are actually loyal to one station instead of flicking between three or four, RJs have to become larger-than-life personalities. In short, they have to become radio stars.
For this, they need tools, techniques and tips which by themselves mean little and seem like small details but when added together take a radio station from one level to the next and a run-of-the-mill RJ from being good to being a star.
Being entertaining and producing great personality content doesn’t just happen by magic. You can’t just let someone get on with it. Sure, you need to identify talent – but you have to put hard work, energy and inspiration into growing that talent.
I always say it takes three years to become an overnight success!
The problem of growing talent is one faced by radio stations all over the world including in developed markets like the UK, US and Australia. Programmers quickly discovered that what goes on between the music is just as important – if not more so – than the music itself. As a consultant, my job is to teach and coach talent. And it’s a vital job that is often overlooked in the rush to grow.
Apart  from star RJs, there’s also another aspect of content that is important to cement listener loyalty to your station: creative and imaginative ideas.
Advertisers just love new ideas. If sales professionals can bring their client fun, fresh and exciting ideas for promotions, they’re more likely to win the business. In the UK and US, the selling of sponsorship and promotions linked to contests and features are one of the biggest growing parts of radio sales. Increasingly, advertisers are looking for more than just a 30-second commercial.
My company Radio Ideas Bank specialises in helping radio stations find tried-and-tested contest and promotion ideas for use on and off air which can generate revenue by being sold to advertisers. We have a searchable database of hundreds of ideas for competitions and stunts that can be used not only on air but also online to enhance radio station websites.
So, content is the lifeblood of radio and the secret to its longevity. Listening to stations in many parts of the world, it seems to me that some have lost their creative spark. Don’t let that happen in India. Radio should never become a commodity. Listener loyalty needs to be earned for true long-term growth. Build stations that ‘sparkle’ and that create talkability from star RJs and drive revenue from fun, imaginative promotions.
In short, grow the pizzazz!
Paul Chantler is a radio programming consultant working in the UK, Europe and India with 30 years experience. He is also the founder of Radio Ideas Bank which has registered users and subscribers in more than 30 countries.