Brands go 360-deg with FM radio activations

18 Jul,2012


By Robin Thomas


Brand activations or on-ground, on-air activations by FM radio stations is not a new phenomenon in this country. In fact, it could be said that most FM radio stations boast of having a dedicated unit to service the needs of their clients.


Brands today realize the need for a 360-degree presence across mediums so that they can be where their consumers are and directly interact and engage with them. Hence the on-ground activations by radio stations give an added advantage to the brands as the activation is also hyped in the on-air programmes they execute.


Take for instance the Asian Paints ‘Lift Kara De’ campaign executed by Radio City Connect. RadioCity Connect had tied up with the dabbawallas of Mumbai and placed around 15,000 sweet boxes inside the dabbas. The activity was spread across various restaurants and some Cinemax outlets in Mumbai.


Apart from the Asian Paints’ campaign, Radio City Connect is also said to have executed a 12-city campaign for Renault Pulse and a 72-location activation plan that involved RWA, corporate park and mall activations. This campaign is said to have generated more than 6,000 leads for the client, along with 1,000 people who went for a test drive.


The same has been the case with other stations as well, where categories such as Telecom, FMCG, BFSI, Cement, Automobiles, Retail, and others have been part of brand activations. According to industry estimates, brand activations on FM radio stations contribute around 12-15 per cent of the overall turnover and is estimated to go above 20 per cent in the near future.


Sanjay Tripathy

Sanjay Tripathy, Executive Vice President-Head Marketing and Direct Channels, HDFC Life explained: “On-ground activations through radio stations are indeed effective with the on-air ads and promos amplifying the activations without the need for an additional media buy. It helps the brands roll out a through-the-line approach with on-air ads and promos, creating awareness and drawing footfalls for the activation. The radio station-led activations are usually properties moulded into the brand’s requirements and help reach out to the specified TG. Also the radio stations help the brands to get easy access to venues, which some brands might not normally get.”


Ashit Kukian

Ashit Kukian, COO and President, RadioCity was of the view that clients these days are increasingly using radio activations to connect with their listeners. “Clients are not just looking for plain vanilla advertising. They are looking for something that is different and allows a 360 degree visibility. More than anything else, they require customization; an integrated approach that involves effective use of radio, on-ground and social media. Over the years, brand integration has played a vital role in traditional mediums like print and television and now brands are increasingly using radio activation to connect to their target audience.”


B Surender

According to B Surender, Senior Vice President, and National Sales Head, Red FM, “The on-ground activation business is extremely important, not just from the revenue point of view, but also from the angle of providing customer satisfaction through a 360 degree approach. Radio stations do have an edge over a direct BTL agency as they provide a 360 degree approach and are better placed to give value for money solutions.”


He added: “Brands had a lot of unfulfilled needs when it came to activation in the form of nationwide reach, one-stop-solution and proactive ideation. Initially, there were hesitations amongst clients to accept a radio station as an activation service provider. However, after the arrival of Phase II and expansion of FM stations across the length and breadth of the country, radio stations have started fulfilling the need for integrated ATL and BTL solutions. The dynamic and innovative nature of radio as a medium has enhanced the quality of integrated solutions provided to the clients.”


The road ahead

Today brands want to engage and interact with their consumers – they want to approach them in a unique way to create high recall value for their brand. Brand activations through radio stations are said to have more impact as compared to other mediums because of high penetration of the medium; the 360 degree promotions the activation is given and the ability to highly engage and have a two-way communication with the consumers. But what needs to be questioned is whether brand activations on radio stations are an effective option when it comes to delivering high ROI?


Mr Tripathy of HDFC Life said that the impact of brand activations is better with radio station-led activation as on-air promos help create incremental hype for the on-ground activations by leveraging an additional medium for communication. “The costs for solo activations through radio stations, however, tend to be very high owing to the air time cost added on to the activation cost which has to be borne by the advertiser. Usually most advertisers resort to associate or partner sponsors from brands, willing to reach out to a similar TG without any conflicting business interests, to share the cost of the activation. However, this sometime dilutes the impact of the activation with multiple brands having to share the centrestage,” he added.


FM phase III rollout is expected to add a new lease of life, not only radio stations, but for advertising options like activations on the medium. Phase III will not only further expand radio stations to newer towns and cities, particularly into tier III and IV towns but will also allow newer genres of FM radio stations, which may attract newer listeners to the medium.


Mr Kukian of RadioCity said: “Radio activations involve a 360 degree format which ensures an all-round visibility for the client. An on-air activity when supported by on-ground activation becomes much more amplified and effective. To create an impact we need to look beyond vanilla-selling, thus activations is the segment to watch out for. Activation is going to assume greater importance in the radio space, as competition increases, the market becomes more saturated and advertisers look for unique and innovative ways to reach the target group.”


Mr Surender of Red FM observed: “With phase III being discussed, private FM industry will get into Tier III and Tier IV cities in a big way. BTL activities in such places are being currently handled by the unorganised sector. Presence of radio players will definitely help improve the impact of experiential marketing efforts targeting semi-urban and rural areas.”


Industry players are of the view that radio is not only an apt medium for brand activations, but in the long run, the importance of brand activations through the medium is also expected to grow. Phase III will not only bring more innovation and differentiation within the medium but, also increase the reach of the medium to tier III and IV cities and towns.


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