impact Roundtable on Radio, held in Mumbai on July 29, brought forth some interesting points from the panel members. Stakeholders from various domains of the medium deliberated on a host of topics ranging from effectiveness of radio as a medium, creativity in radio advertising, etc. The event was presented by Radio City.
The speakers at the Roundtable comprised industry leaders such as Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City; Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media; Chandradeep Mitra, President, Mudra Max; KV Sridhar (Pops), NCD, Leo Burnett India; Sanjay Behl, Brand – Head, Reliance Communications; Sanjay Tripathy, Head – Marketing, HDFC Standard Life Insurance; Jeffrey Crasto, Senior Vice President and Head Buying, MPG India and South Asia; Manas Misra, GM, Mumbai, Mediaedge:cia; and Pradeep Hejmadi, Senior Vice President, TAM Media Research. Big River’s MD Sunil Kumar moderated the discussion.
Local, Interactive, Flexible: Some ingredients for an effective plan
Sunil Kumar stated at the outset that a new industry needed rules and added that radio worked for all its stakeholders – from advertisers to agencies. “The industry today has reached that threshold,” he said.
According to Pops, the biggest advantage of radio was that it was an ‘anytime’ medium.
While agreeing with him, Sanjay Behl also said, “Radio is extremely unstructured from the advertisers’ and marketers’ perspective. It is personal, covers a large section of the audience, and has the ability to get interactive and flexible. Another advantage is ‘empathy’. The use of languages and current topics by radio jockeys allow that to happen and it also allows radio to get extremely local. This is very unique to radio.”
Manas Misra pointed out that disadvantages needed to be converted into advantages. “The ability lies in ‘painting the picture’. The brand custodians - whether media agencies or advertisers - know the brand message. The point is that when the brand or a campaign idea is taken to different mediums, how do you make it work for the audience to see that message as you designed it? The challenge for me is to paint that picture right,” he added.
Sanjay Behl brought in a disadvantage of radio here. He said, “Radio is a passive medium. In terms of content eco-system, it is poor today, and while there are numerous stations, there is no differentiation.” Apurva Purohit, however, disagreed with that and cited a survey done by Radio City to make her point. The survey was done masking the radio brand name and listeners were able to distinguish the station and the radio jockey as well.
Punitha Arumugam was clear that any medium’s disadvantage could be converted to an advantage if one really wanted to do that. “There are numerous radio examples that are though not visual, can create the visual dimension,” she said and presented the Saffola initiative that was done for the World Heart Day, which was done across four radio stations. The initiative had also recently won a Special Award and the Grand EMVIE at the EMVIES 2008, held on July 28.
Arumugam explained that this initiative saw radio as the primary medium and it worked for the brand too. In a sense, this example had set the tone for the discussion since it was an example on how radio could deliver if the potential of the medium was seen and understood.
Crasto brought in another example here of a perfume brand to emphasise that radio as a primary brand can be a sellout too. “We had done a campaign on a perfume brand on radio and the product in question was sold out in 15 days. When the medium touches the local chord, it can do that,” he added.
Accountable and Measurable – Radio on the new road
The experts were clear that when radio owners and brand custodians could work out partnerships in the way that other mediums were seeing, things would be different. Chandradeep Mitra stated that radio had the potential and the multiplier effect of radio was seen already. However, radio still could do more and in that sense the medium had to prove itself and show that it has grown from previous years.
Behl added here, “Partnership is accountability and measurement and the lack of partnership in radio today is seen as a major drawback.” He, however, admitted, “Television has certain uniqueness which radio cannot provide and radio has certain uniqueness which television cannot.”
Pops brought in the creativity aspect in radio advertising and admitted that partnerships were slightly weak on that foot on an industry level as many creative professionals still didn’t understand radio and the medium. However, there were some who were already experimenting and in the new age technology, radio would be further bolstered. He said, “Radio is going to be an important part on the mobile phone. There is fantastic power in interactivity, and this in radio will never die.”
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