Agency: 1576 Advertising Authors: Mark Gorman

Integrating Advertising and Sales Promotion to Rejuvenate an Old Favourite

 

INTRODUCTION

Advertising rarely, if ever, operates in a vacuum, hence the difficulty in proving its effectiveness. Although this paper is based on a very, very good sales promotion we can prove the advertising enhanced the potency of the promotion because it captured the imagination of its audience. What is more it was for a market leading product. It is not easy to have significant market share gains when youre near the top of the tree, but this campaign, holistically, did that. Heres how. BACKGROUND Radio Forth is the Grandaddy of commercial radio stations in its transmission area, East Central Scotland. The station was established among the first wave of franchises in 1975. Commercial radio originally broadcast the same programming on both AM and FM frequencies, but in 1990 Radio Forth, among others, was required to split transmission or lose one of its frequencies. As a result Forth FM and Max AM were created. Chart based music programming was allocated to the FM band whilst Max AM carried the more conservative, 'gold' format of 'easy listening'. Over time it became apparent to Radio Forths management that Max AM was not fully benefiting from the Forth brand name. Further to audience research they discovered that the Max AM brand was not necessarily perceived as Radio Forth by its listeners. So in 1997 a decision was taken to consolidate and rename the station Forth AM. The consolidation allowed the marketing budget to be deployed more effectively on a corporate level across both frequencies. THE COMPETITION HOTS UP As Figure 1 shows the number of UK commercial stations has grown exponentially since 1975 when Radio Forth was one of less than 20. By 1997 there were nearly 200. Crucially however geographic reach (that is the percentage of the population that listen to the station or stations) has grown insignificantly since 1984. Instead the growth in stations has been through increased commercial competition within existing areas. Forth AM has not escaped this increased competition, with several significant new competitors. national and local, emerging. Virgin AM was launched in April 1993, Scot FM, the Central Scotland franchise, in September 1994 and Talk Radio in February 1995. The result of this increased competition is apparent when we look at Forth AMs reach over the period 1991 to 1996 (Figure 2). From a high of 29% it steadily eroded to only 16%. Not only had reach diminished but, with more choice, listeners were switching channels more and eroding brand loyalty. Figure 3 shows a steady decline in average hours listened to Forth AM over the same period. Inevitably this was manifest in the Stations share of listening which declined from nearly 18% to just over 10% as Figure 4 shows. Clearly action was needed. RELAUNCHING MAX AM AS FORTH AM Having reached the decision to relaunch Max AM as Forth AM our client discussed with us the options of relaunching with a branding campaign or through a promotion. On balance we felt that a promotion would be a better choice for two reasons. Firstly the station was not actually changing in any way, other than cosmetically, so there was no inherent news value to talk about. Secondly we believed that only a promotion could achieve the two objectives of increasing average listening hours across existing listeners and attracting new listeners. The choice of promotion was vital in achieving those objectives. Typically radio promotions are short lived, offer small prizes and are intended primarily as vehicles for a stations advertisers, rather than to attract new listeners to the station itself. This promotion had to offer the listener an equal chance of winning on the first day as the last in order to sustain interest across the RAJAR measuring period. This point is crucial in understanding how we can prove the efficacy of this campaign. RAJAR is an extremely robust national audience research tool that all radio stations subscribe to. In Radio Forths case in Quarters 2 and 4 of each year. It is the recognised leveller in radio and has been subscribed to for many years by Radio Forth. As a consequence we have a wealth of data relating to audience measurement for Radio Forths two frequencies, and their competitors. The promotion had to be a big enough incentive to switch people from their first choice station. Also because it was an all station promotion, as opposed to the more common single programme promotion the formula had to work across a wide range of programming, at all times of the day. The 'Plane to Spain' was the answer. Radio Forth booked 100 seats on a plane to Majorca leaving in October 1997 and offered 50 prizes of tickets for two for a weeks holiday. The promotion ran from 14th April to 25th May 1997. A LITTLE EXTRA RAJAR is the key selling tool for radio stations to demonstrate their performance to advertisers, so a good result would become a strong selling tool for the station. RAJAR is sophisticated enough to break out Forth FM, Forth AM and Total Radio Forth listening. So a secondary objective, given the corporate benefits of the name change from Max AM to Forth AM, was an improvement in Forth FMs reach (not average hours, as the promotion wasnt being broadcast on FM) and total Forth reach and listening hours. THE ADVERTISING STRATEGY Specifically the primary advertising objective was to increase Forth AMs reach, particularly in the core listenership of 35 54 year old women (housewives) and to a lesser extent men of the same age group. The requirement to increase average listening hours was not an advertising objective and in any case it would be almost impossible to prove that advertising had been more impactful than station promotions on listeners. MEDIA CHOICE  Given the transmission area of the station we had to select media that were powerful, but not wasteful. For obvious reasons radio was excluded. The budget was challenging, with a total commitment of 40,000 to include fees, production and airtime. Around the time of the campaign Scottish Television had taken the visionary step of splitting its previously total Central Scotland transmission areas (ie Edinburgh and Glasgow) into East and West Coast areas. This afforded us a wonderful opportunity to use television without huge wastage and prohibitive capital costs for airtime. The fit between STVs East Coast transmission area and Radio Forths was remarkable. There was an added benefit from a targeting perspective, as the daytime airtime on the East Coast transmitter was in low demand, therefore exceptional value, and yet it was perfect for reaching our core target audience of housewives (watching TV when they could be listening to Radio Forth).   The media plan used was:   TABLE 1: MEDIA PLAN

 

w/c 13 April

w/c 13 April

w/c 13 April

w/c 13 April

w/c 13 April

w/c 13 April

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 x 20" TV ads

X

X

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STV East Coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total: 20,000

THE CREATIVE SOLUTION The idea was a simple one. It stemmed from the premise that when people come back from their holidays (paid for or otherwise) for a short time at least, they are a different person re-energised, brimming with new ideas and full of vitality. The three commercials we made captured this sentiment with a large dose of humour (radio is an escape, so why get serious). In each commercial the Radio Forth winner is seen, back in Scotland after their trip, being excessively 'Spanish'. One baptises her daughter 'Conchita, Santo, Jesus, Real Madrid, Peth, Eth Eth, Chorizo, Dos Cervezas Por Favor McTavish'. One takes a donkey to do the shopping down at the local supermarket. One practices bullfighting with his pet dog. We also produced promotional trailers for use on station and continued the theme with a series of 'stings' that started out very Scottish and ended up with our presenters turning Spanish.   The commercials were fun, and they worked. THE RESULTS There can be no doubt the effect the campaign had. Forth AMs reach, average listening hours and share were all projected into new orbits as Figure 5, Figure 6 and Figure 7 show. Year on year, which is the only way to view these figures to take out seasonal effects, the increases were dramatic: Reach (the key measure of our advertising impact, because it relates to new listeners) rose by 31.3%; share, a function of reach, increased by 50.5%.; average listening hours, an indication of the effect of the promotion, rather than the advertising, increased by 24.8%.   As Table 2 shows the impact on our core target audience was even more pronounced with both the primary and secondary audiences showing dramatic uplifts.

TABLE 2: CHANGE IN REACH, AVERAGE WEEKLY LISTENING HOURS AND SHARE FOR FORTH AM AMONG ADULTS 3554, 199697

 

1996

1997

Change

Reach

 

 

 

Male:

3544

29%

31%

+6.8%

 

4554

15%

31%

+106.6%

 

 

 

 

 

Female:

3544

24%

31%

+29.2%

 

4554

23%

24%

+4.3%

Hours

 

 

 

Male:

3544

11.2%

13.4%

+19.6%

 

4554

8.0%

15.6%

+95.0%

 

 

 

 

 

Female:

3544

11.7%

16.7%

+42.7%

 

4554

10.7%

15.8%

+47.7%

Share

 

 

 

Male:

3544

22.3%

30.8%

+38.1%

 

4554

8.3%

27.4%

+201.2%

 

 

 

 

 

Female:

3544

14.1%

22.6%

+60.3%

 

4554

15.7%

18.7%

+19.1%

Source: RAJAR

Total Forth reach gained 15% to a three year high (Figure 8). Average listening increased to an all time high (in RAJAR records) with a 15.6% increase (Figure 9). Share leapt 27.1%, also to an all time high (Figure 10). As we had hoped FM also benefited with reach up 20.6% (Figure 11) to an all time high, and share up 14.8% (Figure 12). But arguably the most compelling evidence of the effect of this advertising was that the only insignificant shift across the three audience measures on AM, FM and Total Forth was FMs average listening which was up only 1% (see Figure 13). It is reasonable then to draw the conclusion that the advertising had profoundly affected reach on AM (but had also had a knock on effect on FM and in combination enhanced the total Forth measures). Whereas the promotion had been most effective in lifting average hours (as intended). Crucially the distinction is that the promotion had only affected AM whereas the advertising had affected both AM and FM. THAT'S ALL VERY WELL BUT WHAT ABOUT . . . 
Of course all of this could have been achieved in a bullish radio market, so let us have a look at some other factors that might have been responsible for the results. A radical shake up of the scheduling? No. And anyway that would not affect reach. A huge PR spin off from the relaunch of Forth AM? No. The local press would not touch the story as they see Radio Forth as a competitor. Fundamentally the RAJAR methodology could have changed which might have helped us, but it had not. Had Radio Forth increased its geographical reach in any way? No again. Of course the marketplace could have been on the up, which Radio Forth simply piggybacked. Again we can prove conclusively that not only was this not the case but in fact Radio Forth took market share from its main competitors. Firstly let us look at the commercial radio market year on year. As Figure 14, Figure 15 and Figure 16show none of Radio Forths sister stations in the Scottish Radio Holdings parent group had seen an upturn in their fortunes. Looking beyond the non competitive Scottish Radio Holdings stable to competitive performance within the Radio Forth transmission area, the effect of the campaign is again apparent as Figure 17, Figure 18 and Figure 19 show quite clearly. All competitors have lost ground to Radio Forth in terms of reach, share and average listening hours with the sole exception of Radio Scotland. It has to be said there was little or no competitor advertising in the period of the campaign. Indeed Radio Forth was the only advertiser, but the investment was minimal for the progress that was made. And proved its worth conclusively. CONCLUSION
So how do we sum up? A great promotion, original in every way, had achieved all the targets set for it and all those hoped for as a bonus. In stating our case one simply cannot dismiss the impact of the promotion itself, but it would be easy to dismiss the impact as a great promotion alone. The simple fact is that the advertising must have connected with non listeners to Forth AM to have brought so many new people to the station. The success was such that 18 months later Radio Forth had the confidence to ask us to use the same fundamental advertising strategy to launch the biggest prize promotion in UK radio history. NOTES & EXHIBITS

FIGURE 1: GROWTH IN NUMBER AND REACH OF UK COMMERCIAL RADIO STATIONS 1994-97