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Rana Barua

National Head - Marketing | 10 Jul 2007

"We have a proper in-depth research that we keep doing on this to keep music fresh. Other channels call themselves 'Adult hit contemporary channels', while we call ourselves an 'AC' channel, which is an Adult Contemporary channel. What we mean by that is that we keep playing music that can connect with the first generation and it necessarily need not be the latest hits. You will realise over time that we don't play so many hit songs. We do not chase hits like a new breaking song or something like that, which again is a big differentiator, and you will see our songs cutting across generations."

Rana Barua, National Head of Marketing, Radio City, has expertise in strategic planning, new business development, market plan execution, cost containment, budgeting/finance, customer service, staff training, supervision and mentoring.

As National Head of Marketing, Barua is leading the national marketing team at Radio City, based in Mumbai. He looks after all national marketing initiatives. The focus of his assignment is to further build on the innovative never-done-before aspects of marketing, which will further build the brand, Radio City.

Prior to joining Radio City, Barua was with Bates Enterprise as its Vice-President and General Manager.

During the course of his career he has been instrumental in client management/relationship building, competitor and market analysis, 360-degree marketing solutions, consumer understanding and targeted marketing. Barua has the experience of launching a number of durable, FMCG and entertainment brands through his tenure of over 12 years as an advertising professional. In a freewheeling conversation with exchange4media’s Jagadeesh Krishnamurthy, Barua talks about the marketing initiatives of Radio City, DAR and Dairy Panel methodologies as well as the FM channel’s programming mix.

Q. What was the whole idea behind the new ‘Whatte Fun’ initiative from Radio City?

The idea started when we thought that it was the right time to go for differentiation. Radio, we all are aware, is a very low involvement medium. To position radio into the minds of the listeners is to stand for something which is more than just plain vanilla reasons. So, if you take the entire genre that we thought was the platform of fun. And, our entire thought and idea was that if we want to involve listeners, even if he listens to the radio for half an hour, was to position the channel as something which is full of fun and energy. The insights that we got were that whether it’s a male or a female, it’s a whole day of stress filled work and challenges and rather than being a static medium in the background if we can provide that half an hour of respite with fun then ‘Whatte Fun’ as a proposition will fulfil its objective.

The SEC AB, which we are targeting, comprises a sizeable audience in our markets. If you take the entire AB audience in the market, Radio City will have close to 50 per cent of the audience.

Q. What has the listeners’ response been like?

Initially, whatever response we are getting, which includes programme linked, has been an extremely positive one. A lot of people have seen our music video; lot of people have come into this ‘Whatte fun’ kind of a point as it is actually “fun ki nayi bhasha”. We will now start promoting this in a very big way, coming through which you will see a lot of creative advertising layout. Our idea is to say that “fun ki nayi bhasha” is Radio City ‘Whatte fun’.

Q. Radio city has been pretty vocal about the DAR methodology being helpful for the players who heavily spend on outdoor. The recent ILT figures, which use DAR methodology, show that you have an increased market share. Would you attribute this gain to your marketing efforts?

It is not just the marketing. In fact, whatever figures that we see now, whether it is ILT that we don’t subscribe to, or even our own internal track, which is a brand track done very scientifically through Synovate, we are seeing positive numbers. More than marketing, I think why we managed to do is because of the understanding of our listeners, which we have been talking for a while now. We have actually done a lot changes in the music – the kind of music they want, the kind of programming they want to listen to – and which is why we have introduced a show like ‘City City Bang Bang’.

We have a proper in-depth research that we keep doing on this to keep music fresh. Other channels call themselves ‘Adult hit contemporary channels’, while we call ourselves an ‘AC’ channel, which is an Adult Contemporary channel. What we mean by that is that we keep playing music that can connect with the first generation and it necessarily need not be the latest hits. You will realise over time that we don’t play so many hit songs. We do not chase hits like a new breaking song or something like that, which again is a big differentiator, and you will see our songs cutting across generations.

Q. You have in the past said that marketing helps in ILT figures. So, do you agree that marketing has helped Radio City in the ILT figures?

No, not really. We haven’t done any marketing during that period. We have got the figures, and I think figures have come more so because of our change in the overall mix and music. And, people are actually telling us “your music sounds better”. When we go out and speak to other people, be it listeners or even people in the trade and advertisers, we are getting a positive feedback. This change began in March or April and as you might be aware, we have not done any major advertising campaign or anything in Mumbai. We are doing it now because of the change in proposition.

Q. Talking about methodologies, Radio City has recently endorsed the RAM. But criticisms have already come in for the Diary panel methodology that is going to be used. What is your stand on that?

I am not sure who the players are who have expressed displeasure over it as along with us Red FM and Big FM have already come together for it. Our only point is that Diary is naturally going to be a much more robust measurement system. I heard during the IRS that it is not the most updated or the latest methodology. We need to understand that moving to an electronic meter is not only going to be expensive, but also a huge exercise for all of us. As of now, with all the dry runs that have been done with RAM, the Diary methodology looks much more robust than the DAR methodology. And as the market grows, sooner or later, as is known, they might migrate to the electronic meter.

Q. How different is your marketing in the rural and the urban markets?

The way our marketing works, at least in Radio City, it is very centrally driven. The corporate office in Mumbai drives the strategy in the country because we are very careful about ensuring that the Radio City brand that we are building nationally is the same everywhere, yet city-specific initiatives are taken. Which is why, whether it’s through the marketing or programming, we are trying to get a complete synergy that I think we have managed to do so now. That is why our stations in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore will sound absolutely different from each other. But that doesn’t mean we stop doing any local initiatives or tie-ups. The only thing is of the proposition that comes with certain values that make up the Radio City brand. We will not do certain things and that has been told across all stations.

Q. Many forums have reiterated that radio is a local medium. What have been your efforts in getting the local retailers to advertise with you?

We are very strong with the retailers. For example, what we are doing in all our markets, whether it’s Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow or Mumbai, we have a Sunday two-hour special only for the local retailers. That is one way of doing it. The other way of looking at it is the local language in the market. So, it’s not necessary that in Chennai I will go Tamil.

My programming is completely different from other channels’. For example, my morning begins with English, then I play Tamil and then I again play English. While in Hyderabad, while everyone plays Telugu in the morning, I play Hindi. Now that gives the local marketers or retailers a completely new avenue to do their advertising. So, if you have five channels doing the same, this gives them a chance to move out and get a good opportunity to exploit the same. So, it is actually possible to create shows not necessarily by the market understanding but also by keeping in mind the profile and the psychographics of the market.

Q. Advertisers are asking for ads which are more than just in-between song placements and RJ talks. What have your efforts been in this regard?

The biggest advantage that radio does, which we realised sometime back, is activation, which is why we have tied up with Vibgyor, an activation agency. Advertisers are using it to launch their products – be it beauty bars, television soaps, etc. What a radio channel does for him is that apart from the announcements it also allows interactivity, which is on-ground. The only difference we are bringing to the table is that we are not saying, ‘we are the experts’, but we have an expert to do it for you.

Q. Which is easier to sell – Talk radio or Music radio? And, which format do you see growing?

As of now, it is very much music. We are not very sure about talk radio. I think it’s very early days and unless there is a very huge media involvement per se, which may happen in a year or so. In terms of growth, it will definitely be a balance between the two.

Q. What are your plans for Visual Radio?

As of now, it is very early days for us. We know that it’s a very big medium and we have a person looking specifically into it.

Q. Are you looking at competition from satellite radio?

No, because FM radio is a completely free-to-air medium, and satellite radios have a completely different business model.

Q. Finally, what is your wish list for Phase III?

I think what we all are looking for is the News. Because, when you are on the move, then you can just pick up your radio and listen to the latest happenings instantly. I think that is the biggest thing that we need and one which will change the medium very dramatically.

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