Thursday, 1 April 2010

If you advertise on the radio, invest in your brand.

Last weekend I took the missus and our 4 year old son Dan to the beautiful city of Bath. The day co-incided with a match at the rugby ground. Where ever we looked: In cafe’s, bars and shops there was a sea of blue and black shirts. Though the atmosphere was a lot more civilised than a football match day. This is Bath after all.

Whilst walking round the new shopping centre, Southgate, we heard a cacophony of cheering and applause. Thinking it was some exuberant rugby fans, we went round the corner to discover something completely different.

Apple had opened a brand new store and our arrival was at the exact time when the doors of the store opened. The cheers, whoops and claps weren’t coming from the queue of customers walking into the store. It was coming from a huge line of Applestore staff all dressed in their blue tops. As the public filed in, each person was welcomed with a free T.shirt and brisk high-fives. It was tremendous fun. My missus turned to me with a huge beaming face and said “Isn’t Apple a great brand ?”

She’s right. Apple oozes cleverness, style and a real feeling that you want to be part of it. The stores aren’t stuffy and the staff, although incredibly well-trained are still incredibly approachable.

At the same time Apple was wowing the folks of Bath, British Airways cabin crews were on the picket lines. “Willie Walsh is pants” was written on a string of underwear, the bigwigs in Unite were telling the media how unreasonable BA is being and BA customers were promising not to use the airline ever again.

What a contrast.

And what a reminder that brand is everything.

The biggest thrill I get in radio commercial production is to help regional and local businesses make a real name for themselves in their respective market. The trouble is, not enough local and regional business care about ‘their brand’. They think subjecting the listener with what is effectively and audio version of a leaflet is the way to win the hearts of the public. How wrong they are.

If you’re a local company, the public aren’t forgiving about your image. By default, they will always compare how you present yourself with everyone else and in a matter of milliseconds accept you or reject you.

Right now, the public will be doing the same with B.A. As the industrial dispute continues, British Airways will do it’s upmost to protect it’s brand. It made me think: If BA hadn’t invested squillions in promoting their core brand values, just imagine what a sorry state they would be in now.

Like BA, Toyota is having a rough time. But because they too have done the groundwork and been incredibly pro-active in being seen to sort things out; their ‘Today Tomorrow Toyota’ positioning is, my opinion relevant and effective.

As the economy is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, now is the time for local and regional advertisers to set the scene for the good times by dumping a model that relies on advertising just special offers. Lets instead encourage more radio advertisers to adopt a model that shows the public just how bloody amazing they really are. So when the good times (and indeed the bad times) come back, they are standing on a solid foundation that’s able to handle anything that comes their way.

Oh, and as a completely separate issue and going off on a complete tangent, who else thinks the Halifax ‘radio station’ ads are verging on being utterly cringeworthy ?

John Calvert.

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