Naked weddings, naked sleddings… what’s next? Because naked seems equal to ‘make it’ publicity-wise. But what’s the long term image effect of buzz creating radio stunts?

It was one of the topics during a session at the Lokalrundfunktage 2011, where we learned about 360° promotions, station benchmarks, and radio promotion tactics for brand awareness and ratings boosting. It included interesting cases, such as major promotions in Austria and Germany that shook up the radio market.


The Secret Sound

“Berlin is a more creative market again”, says Stephan Schmitter. He is CEO of the RTL Radio Center, which owns 105’5 Spreeradio and the #1 station 104.6 RTL in what is probably Germany’s most competitive radio market. “Many years, lots of stations played Das Geheimnisvolle Geräusch (The Secret Sound) for 20 weeks in a row. Now there’s a lot happening again, even outside the ratings survey periods.” | Jochen Trus Am Morgen (Jochen Trus In The Morning) is the breakfast show of German AC station 105'5 Spreeradio in BerlinThe Magnificent Seven

Concept Collect coupons in stores, win prices in morning show
Station 105’5 Spreeradio
Format AC
Target 30-59
Positioning Die besten Songs aller Zeiten (Best songs of all time)
Average listeners/hour 121.000



Audience cume boost

105’5 Spreeradio was launched in 1995 when many competitors were already established in the market. “We always had a cume problem, so we needed a promotion partner who reaches millions of people”, Schmitter explains. Together with Kaiser’s, a chain of 144 stores in Berlin, they came up with Die Glorreichen Sieben (The Magnificent Seven) – probably inspired by the famous western movie and TV series. Customers who collected all seven different coupon motives had a chance to win € 10.000 (to be spent at Kaiser’s). | Das Verrückte Rennen Durch Europa (The Mad Race Through Europe) is a 2011 radio promotion of German Hot AC station 104.6 RTL in BerlinThe Mad Race Through Europe

Concept 3 Teams, 3 locations, 3 cars, 1 finish
Station 104.6 RTL
Format Hot AC
Target 14-39
Positioning Berlin’s Hit-Radio (Berlin’s hit music station)
Average listeners/hour 209.000



We Pay Your Bills

Stephan Schmitter: “104.6 RTL runs many classic promotions, like We Pay Your Bills, so we wanted to do something crazy this time. The TV series Top Gear inspired us to do Das Verrückte Rennen Durch Europa (The Mad Race Through Europe).” 104.6 RTL’s morning, afternoon and drive time personalities each formed a race team, positioned in Rome, Barcelona, and Stockholm. Their mission: race to Berlin with a (sponsored) Suzuki car in 3 days and finish first. Listeners could predict the winning team. And if they guessed right, they could win the same car. | Susanna Pröbstl (Broadcast Future), Rüdiger Landgraf (KRONEHIT) and Stephan Schmitter (RTL Radio Center Berlin) at the session about radio promotions during the Lokalrundfunktage 2011 in Nürnberg, Germany (photo: Thomas Giger)

Stephan Schmitter, CEO RTL Radio Center Berlin: “104.6 RTL runs many classic promotions, like We Pay Your Bills, so we wanted to do something crazy this time” (photo: Thomas Giger)



Great radio to listen to

All teams reported back on the air on a regular basis, so the audience could hear their latest adventures. According to Schmitter “there was a real battle going on between the teams. They played clever tricks; like mentioning phony locations on the air to mislead the others. When the three teams arrived in Berlin, many other drivers honked their horns and people on the street waved them in. It was exciting content; great radio to listen to. The customer was happy and the jocks had a good time, too.” | 104.6 RTL and 105'5 Spreeradio approach radio promotions from a 360° angle - helping both the station and the sponsor, and combining old & new media, as well as combining on-air & off-air promotion360° Promotions

RTL uses the following criteria for major promotions:

Support station’s programming strategy
Support their sponsor’s exposure needs
Combine on-air and off-air elements
Combine traditional and new media



Station benchmarks

Rüdiger Landgraf is program director of Austria’s only national privately owned station KRONEHIT. It’s targeting a young, female audience with a Hot AC format (a mix of R&B, Rhythmic Pop and Dance). In order to increase top of mind awareness and create word of mouth, the station bets on major promotions and station benchmarks, like Der KRONEHIT Lügendetektor (The KRONEHIT Polygraph) – in which a celebrity gets interviewed while being wired to that machine. | Die KRONEHIT Nackthochzeit (The KRONEHIT Naked Wedding) is a 2011 radio promotion of Austrian Hot AC station KRONEHITThe KRONEHIT Naked Wedding

Concept Man & woman get married in their Adam’s costume
Format Hot AC
Target 14-34
Positioning Wir sind die meiste Musik (We are the most music)
Average listeners/day 695.000



Promotion building

Landgraf explains how Die KRONEHIT Nackthochzeit (The KRONEHIT Naked Wedding) promotion was done. He divides the timeline into 4 stages: planning, deciding, executing and controlling:


1. Planning

KRONEHIT wanted a promotion that others could (or would) not do and that people would share with their friends. This planning stage began about nine months before [ Z100 has a similar approach ]


2. Deciding

The goal of the promotion was set: be provocative, create attention, and increase brand awareness. KRONEHIT decided to find their happy couple out of their currently 182.000 fans on Facebook (of which 50-60 candidates wanted to go for it).


3. Executing

In promos that aired before the wedding, the station’s ‘polygraph-benchmark’ was included (checking if the couple was honest about wanting to marry naked). Just in case they would get cold feet last minute after all, the station got the couple to sign a contract.


4. Controlling

The promotion got coverage from major TV networks in Austria and Germany, even though it took place a few days after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima peaked. It was also the first time that KRONEHIT generated more traffic than main competitor Hitradio Ö3, while Ö3 published significantly more online content. | Google Trends overview that compares search engine traffic for The KRONEHIT Naked Wedding radio promotion with traffic regarding to a breaking news story and a competing radio station's online content

Left: searches for news about the Fukushima (‘atom’) crisis vs. The KRONEHIT Naked Wedding (‘nackthochzeit’) Right: searches for KRONEHIT vs. Ö3 related content (data and graphics: Google Trends, Austria, 2011)



Promotion evaluation

Despite this result, Rüdiger Landgraf sees 3 key points of improvement for the next promotion:

  • Improve internal briefings: prepare and instruct the on-air staff even better; they are the ones that have to ‘sell’ the promotion
  • Communicate channel specific: find the right promotion intensity for each medium; radio listeners need repetition before a message sticks, Facebook visitors don’t
  • Expand PR services: anticipate on a possible huge interest from other media; have enough manpower standing by to answer all media requests | Stephan Schmitter (CEO RTL Radio Center Berlin), Georg Dingler (PD-GM Radio Gong 96,3), Susanna Pröbstl (Editor Broadcast Future) and Rüdiger Landgraf (PD KRONEHIT) at the Lokalrundfunktage 2011 contributing to the panel discussion about major promotion trends in German and Austrian radio (photo: Thomas Giger)

Rüdiger Landgraf, program director KRONEHIT Austria: the goal of the Naked Wedding promotion was to be provocative, to create attention, and to increase brand awareness (photo: Thomas Giger)



Brand awareness vs. ratings boost

Does KRONEHIT launch a new promotion soon after something like the Naked Wedding is over? “In this case we did start The KRONEHIT Baby-Race about four weeks later”, says Rüdiger Landgraf. “It worked, because the dimension was different from the Naked Wedding. It is a balance of major promotions that get people’s attention and drive your cume, and typical promotions that help grow your ratings when there’s a survey going on, such as The 10.000 Euro Call– the station’s adaption of the cash call format The Phrase That Pays. | Das 89.0 RTL Nacktrodeln (The 89.0 RTL Naked Sledding) is a popular radio promotion of this German hit music station (photo: 89.0 RTL)

The 89.0 RTL Naked Sledding is a controversial but popular radio promotion of this German CHR (photo: 89.0 RTL)



Station image risk

Stephan Schmitter sees the success of KRONEHIT’s stunt and Das 89.0 RTL Nacktrodeln (The 89.0 RTL Naked Sledding), a popular event of sister station 89.0 RTL in Halle. But he is not sure if this would work in Germany’s top market. “It seems that naked always draws attention. We’ve learned that our own audience expects a certain degree of seriousness. In Berlin, the image values for local news and information are just as important as music and promotions. So you have to think of which images could be weakened, before you decide about any promotion.”