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.”
The Magnificent Seven
Concept Collect coupons in stores, win prices in morning show
Station 105’5 Spreeradio
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).
The Mad Race Through Europe
Concept 3 Teams, 3 locations, 3 cars, 1 finish
Station 104.6 RTL
Format Hot AC
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.
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.”
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
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.
The KRONEHIT Naked Wedding
Concept Man & woman get married in their Adam’s costume
Format Hot AC
Positioning Wir sind die meiste Musik (We are the most music)
Average listeners/day 695.000
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:
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 ]
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”