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..!!!