Contrary to popular belief, India is not one country. It’s several. It’s the place where people from zillion faiths live together. It’s the place where more than 35 languages are spoken. And the place where the local dialect changes every 24 miles. It’s perhaps the only place in the world where you can enjoy a plate of Mysore Masala Dosa in a Gujarati restaurant.
The question is how do you communicate with so many people at one time and yet not lose relevance? How do you speak to one person without alienating the other 2 billion minus one people?
Though the problem seems to be of epic proportions, the answer is simple. It’s radio. Yes, that medium that many account planners often include in their presentations last minute, only to show that the idea is indeed campaignable. But the significance of radio is much more than that, and if taken seriously, radio can do wonders for a brand.
Radio is the only tool that lets you talk to people in their own language. It allows you to not just communicate, but to connect with the audience. Imagine talking to a guy sitting somewhere in Gangtok in a way only his friends from the hill talk to him. If you do, chances are he will listen to you.
But radio offers more than just the capacity to customise your target group. Radio, today, is more interactive than ever before. Last year, cellular companies sold over a million cell phones in India. Which also means that they sold over a million pocket radios last year! The combination of radio and cellphone is revolutionary in more ways than one. Gone are the days when radio was the only talker in the room, today every listener can be a part of the conversation and as in many cases, even decide the content. The rise of concept karaoke radio stations world over is a step in that direction. In fact, don’t be surprised if in years to come, people start hosting radio shows from the comfort of their homes, playing their favourite music for the world to listen.
However, what really gets me excited about radio is the way this medium is evolving. Take, for example, the Bajaj Mixer radio spot that our Leo Burnett office created last year. The radio asked the audience to shuffle between two radio stations (each playing techno music) and allowed the listeners to create their own music and thus be a travelling DJ. That’s the power of radio. Radio can involve people, entertain them and if used wisely, even move them (remember that radio campaign asking people to report potholes in Bangalore).
In a nutshell, if you are ready to innovate, toil hard and be creative, radio can give you results that will amaze you. Brand managers from India Inc. are you listening?
(KV (Pops) Sridhar is National Creative Director, Leo Burnett India.)