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In Brands and Branding
Evolution strengthens the being, say the scientists. As science and technology brought about rapid shift from analogue to digital media, the human voice carries information beyond words. It’s really quite natural.
These are tough times for brand marketing companies. The plethora of media channels and their fragmented audiences make delivering the message difficult and expensive. One solution, of course, is to spend lots of money and keep absolute control.
I’m a radio fan. I’ve always been one. Part of it is the medium’s playfulness and the magic of voices. There have been times, though, when I’ve worried that radio might be doomed.
The narrowing of content exasperates media experts. From tunnel vision to silo thinking, we have a name for it. Consumers know what they want and want what they know. It’s not just the web that’s “unstoppable”.
For many radio stations, the most important branding element is the morning show. It’s all about the numbers; more radio listening takes place in the morning. Stations, typically, invest more between six and nine in the morning than any other day-part, sometimes more than the rest of the day. Even stations branded as all-music will add services and a stronger host, so important is the morning slot.
Having a strong brand is good for business. The attributes are nurtured among the wise. Sometimes big brands smack into big walls.
Newspaper publishers, almost universally, adore the tablet devices as wonderful new content distribution points. Access to the tablets – like Apple’s iPad – has, however, conditions. A crisis meeting is in order.
When it comes to business, success means customers. The media sector is no different. There’s a conversation going on, if broadcasters and publisher choose to listen in.
People, particularly young people, are spending half their waking hours with one form of media or another. In fact, it looks like they are only spending time with media, often two or more at once. Have we fried their brains?
Believe it or not BP still has supporters. It’s a tier 1 (biggest) sponsor for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games and that’s worth some £40 million ($60 million) to the organizers which is why their chairman has publicly stated again that BP is a “trusted partner”. The big question, of course, is what will remain of BP by the time of those Games.
Nobody can doubt Rupert Murdoch’s enthusiasm for the iPad. He said a week ago he thought it would save newspapers and he marveled this week at how his Wall Street Journal already has 64,000 active users. And as far as he is concerned there had never been such a demand for news and information as there is now, so he sees being a news provider a good business these days.
How fast the mighty can fall. Toyota had become the world’s largest auto maker and the bestselling brand in the US but now it is circling the wagons against the onslaught of competitors looking to steal market share and customers worried their accelerator pedals may stick and cause crashes. Toyota’s only chance now is to learn from previous major recalls -- to be absolutely forthcoming and frank with the full truth to its customers, and pay whatever it takes to set things right. Then, and only then, does it have any chance to save the brand.
Enlightenment comes hard to enterprise management struggling day-to-day. Often it’s economic stress that brings on the ‘ah, yes’ moment, usually when that moment is lost. Horizon can make a difference.
There are really no secrets to building a strong media brand. There need to be a hook, something listeners and viewers can hold on to. Ubiquity helps, too. MTV has it in the bag, quite mixed actually.
Impulse is both the great builder and killer of media brands. It has its moment in the brand life cycle. But strong brands are not static brands; the impulse and ego that drive one level of creativity must evolve.
Two recent surveys indicate that newspaper readers, and newspaper editors, are not very happy with cutbacks endured over the past few years and while management can claim it is only doing what it has to do, the wool is not being pulled over anyone’s eyes. Readers know exactly what is happening and they don’t like it.
Music has been called the universal language. News is considered a universal right. In the cold light of this century’s media reality, both are merely content to be consumed.
Drawing crowds appeals to a media persons inner marketing brain. Radio stations are the long standing champions at calling people to action, social media a recent challenger. Crowds, though, are unpredictable.
In the convergence of economics and consumer behavior conventional wisdom holds that strong brands drive out weak ones as stressed consumers choose the known over the unknown. Comfort food is in. Peruvian-Thai fusion cuisine is out. Media brand managers need to adjust.
Promotion, marketing and branding is not just something NRJ does, it’s what NRJ is. It is not simply the company’s strong point, it’s the whole point.
Promotion ideas are easy. Everybody has them. Turning an idea into a major promotion is not the realm of the faint-hearted. And that’s one reason many broadcasters have given them up. The accountants never liked all that expense anyway.
Radio succeeds as a call to action medium. When radio broadcasters set their minds to moving people the result gets results. Radio promotions succeed, more often than not, because the nature of the medium is participation.
Timidity was long ago erased from the BBC stylebook. No universal brand reaches that pinnacle without occasionally reminding lesser mortals of the scale of things. Competitors scoff at their peril.
Nobody – ever – said the folks at the Walt Disney Company aren’t smart. When broadcasters are ditching children’s programming because of ad restrictions, the Disney Channel is moving from pay-TV to free-to-air. Why not? The money is in the Disney products.
In many lands of this media world, memories are bigger than dreams. Old media stumbles under the weight of all that has gone before. Dreamers stumble, too, but they soldier on, eyes front, forward into the fog.
The games and contests radio stations play with listeners are meant to add to the entertainment. One UK broadcaster played a bit too much and the regulator imposed the biggest fine ever charged. Are contests and competitions good promotion or sleazy tricks? Or are radio ‘fun and games’ easy targets for poor losers and regulators?
Without doubt within the Middle Kingdom whispers are whirling. Chinese leaders have misjudged the force of images and symbols. It’s odd, and yet not, for a culture whose language is built on both.
Brand logic is back in fashion. Whether your market is buoyant or bombing a powerful brand attracts and holds audience with the right mix of content, message and interaction. Perhaps you should also think about inspiring.
Physics teaches us that it takes three points to make a space. Furniture teaches us a chair needs three legs to keep from falling over. I’ve been thinking for weeks how to connect ‘engage or die’ and ‘circular entertainment.’ It became clear one day as I was listening to Hansine on the radio.
According to The Wall Street Journal web site, Rupert Murdoch is moving in his closest allies to run Dow Jones and out goes CEO Richard Zannino who announced his resignation Thursday to be replaced by Les Hinton who runs New International in the UK (Times of London, Times, News of the World, Sun), and The Journal also says Publisher Gordon Crovitz goes (but no resignation announcement as this is written) to be replaced by Robert Thomson, editor of the Times of London.
The stakes have never been higher – billions and billions of dollars of Chinese exports are sold around the world, usually on price more than anything else, but now quality enters the picture and China has a big problem. How it chooses to resolve that in the world’s eyes could become a classic PR lesson, but right now they seem divided on what to do, taking a stick against those who complain too much and a carrot promising reforms.
This just doesn’t seem to be Nike’s year for sports endorsements. In the UK it has problems because soccer star Wayne Rooney got injured wearing Nike soccer boots and it has opened a debate whether the new light boots offer the necessary protection when someone steps on a foot, and now in the US it has the Michael Vicks debacle.
Media organizations are shocked – shocked – when survey after survey reveals how little public trust exists in their brands…and how far that trust falls each year. Blame rests completely at the doors to the big media houses, not necessarily for their blunders – though these are not helpful – but rather for their failure to notice the paradigm shift in their power position. They’ve lost it. The people have it.
Celebrity endorsements have always been somewhat dodgy, usually because of the morals clause or similar, but Nike has another bigger problem on its hands – a star British football player has been hurt for the third time wearing Nike’s star soccer shoes and all the denials of “It’s not our fault” still has doctors and players endorsing bringing back the old heavy football shoes. Not exactly the type of publicity Nike craves, the stars certainly wouldn’t be as agile, but would they be safer?
Contrary to all the nonsense the Bancrofts and the New York Times put out, Rupert Murdoch is not about to destroy the Dow Jones editorial reputation for which he has paid so much – indeed look for Murdoch’s global plan to make the Wall Street Journal THE US newspaper of record, not just for more of the world’s major business and political decision makers, but also for the common man. If he pulls all of that off then $5 billion will look like chicken feed.
The figures are in from last week’s UK Mail on Sunday giveaway of Prince’s new CD, Planet Earth, and circulation on that day was up a whopping 600,000, a huge financial and promotional success for Prince, but also for the newspaper? All depends how advertisers will look at the circulation numbers and how many of those extra 600,000 sales stick.
There’s no genius in saying the music business today is far and away different from what it was a generation ago, a decade ago and even 20 minutes ago. What Napster brought, simplistically, the iPod wrought asunder. When a UK newspaper slips a CD inside and its one-day circulation explodes little doubt remains.
For Prince, the pop musician from Minneapolis, it was marketing bordering on the genius that has UK CD retailers furious but got the singer untold millions of $€£ in free promotion for his European concert tour. For The Mail on Sunday newspaper it was a marketing gem that probably cost around £500,000 ($1 million) and boosted its circulation by some 500,000 on the day. So, was it a win-win to give away Prince’s new Plant Earth CD and not sell it in the shops? For Prince, absolutely, For the Mail on Sunday the jury is still out.
Come rain or shine, usually rain, July 4 is celebrated in Geneva, Switzerland with more than 30,000 people turning out for the US Independence Day celebrations. Most times there is a US. high school marching band, the military sends over a band from Germany, there are American football games, cheerleaders, dancing, hot-air balloon rides, great food and fantastic fireworks. But not this year. The sponsors haven’t turned up.
It was worth hearing, again, that the Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” passed a milestone. It was forty years ago this week that radio stations daringly played a song starting “It was twenty years ago today…”. Things change.
To be big in a market a radio station needs that special lure – a hook, raison d’etre. To be big in a big market, it is essential. Russia’s AvtoRadio has it, a solid radio brand.
Understanding post-modern TV means accepting ever shrinking niche markets. A decade ago viewers complained of “500 channels and nothing on TV.” Today there are a million channels and everything’s on TV. For brand marketing, it’s a wonderful world.
An editors’ life is full of worry. Safety and security is top of mind. With gigabytes of digitally inspired user-generated content filling the in-boxes media managers see less need for journalists and, in due course, less need for editors. When all content is equal, then opportunities for cost savings are wide and open.
Tired of hearing about newspapers giving away DVDs and still losing circulation? Of course; their marketing people are about a generation behind the times. There are radio lessons.
What’s the worst thing that can happen to a restaurant chain? How about video shown around the world of big fat rats prancing all over one of your New York restaurants? Perhaps worse could be if a significant number of guests a couple of months before throughout the East Coast got e-coli poisoning from tainted lettuce and that had customers staying away in droves. Both happened to Taco Bell and yet the shares for its parent Yum Brands are still flying high on Wall Street.
As editorial scams go, this one was right up there. The Greeley Tribune in Colorado for years had been stealing, uh, picking up, stories from other Colorado newspapers and crediting them to the Associated Press. Apparently it had been going on for several years before a competitor noticed and complained. The Tribune has apologized and said it won’t happen again.
Brought to our attention, quite late it seems, was that the turn of the new year did not produce an American radio person of the year. At least this was the judgment of a tip sheet for US radio broadcasters.
Yet another radio format sails across the Atlantic brimming with promise. It’s called Jack FM. The first stop will be Oxford in the UK in March. Liverpool and Manchester might be next if OFCOM is persuaded. Think of it as bird flu on a hard disc.
Bum Tires May End Up Costing the French Company $50 Million. But If It Does Things Right Its Brand Could End Up With a Perrier Outcome.
A Personal Remembrance of The Lengths Salesman Ted Turner Had To Resort To Flog His Fledgling News Network To A Cable Industry That Did Not Want It
Today’s quiz: What does a body spray product and a daily newspaper have in common? Answer: Both want to attract teenagers. Then how is it the body spray does and the newspaper doesn’t? Answer: Because the body spray knows how to turn the kids on, whereas a mainstream newspaper is expert at turning them off.
If you thought all brands would be media brands in the future, brace yourself. We’re there!
The volumes written and hours spoken about the BBC in the last two years could fill a 40 GB hard-drive. When Lord Hutton blew super-heated air into a pyre of smoldering quarrels, every critic and defender circled round, wailing and throwing either oil or sand. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Found in more than 25 countries, the Kiss radio brand is everywhere. Station names may vary – Kiss Radio, Kiss FM, Kiss Kiss, just Kiss – but the name is ubiquitous, perhaps the most frequently used radio brand name in the world.
Radio broadcasters have offered a personal medium for information and entertainment nearly a generation before branding became the most important term in marketing and advertising.