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This Is How Radio Really Works

Posted by radio On August - 28 - 2012

By Thato Mokhou

 

On 23 August, radio heavyweights and creative geniuses convened at the Radio Advertising Bureau’s (RAB) RadioWorks Conference 2012 to engage in discourse about re-igniting passion and love for radio through advertising.

 

Held at The Forum at the Campus in Bryanston, this year’s instalment of the conference was an outstanding success as it focused on radio and digital advertising.  Cannes 2012 Radio Jury President, Rob McLennan, Founder and Director of The Digital Marketing Academy, Walter Pike and advertising guru, Andy Rice were just some of the speakers who shared great insights that inspired many to do radio differently.

 

MetroFM’s Azania Mosaka shined on stage alongside entertainer, Ernest ‘Ray Ray’ Madlisa, as the event’s MCs. ‘Ray Ray’, popularly known for his flamboyant appearances on

Azania Mosaka and Ernest ‘Ray Ray’ Madlisa

MTN’s adverts, kept spirits high with his humour and energy. Twitter was abuzz as delegates hashtagged RadioWorks to share their thoughts and views about the conference.

 

Recently appointed General Manager of the RAB, Matona Sakupwanya, officially opened the last leg of the conference.  RAB visited the shores of Durban and Cape Town before jetting to Johannesburg. The programme consisted of an array of talented people from the radio and advertising industries, some veterans who have conceptualized some of South Africa’s brilliant advertising campaigns and others who have taken radio to new heights.

 

The depth of knowledge knew no bounds and the first speaker to contribute to the abyss was founder of presentation firm, Missing Link, Rich Mulholland. His presentation was sabotaged by a technological glitch which had ‘Ray Ray’ desperately trying to keep delegates from imminent frustration through his dancing frenzy. After a number of attempts Rich opted to present ‘old style’. His eccentric demeanour immediately caught everyone’s attention and he animatedly spoke about the birth of digital and it being the illegitimate love-child of radio.

 

Rich delved into the importance of maintaining a retention economy in advertising. Using Nandos as an example, he illustrated how the brand has had viral campaigns from being consistent in converting attention to retention. He elaborated that Nandos has had brilliant marketing strategies which have enabled the brand to attain a lot of reach and to maintain attention by reaching out to that audience as frequently as possible – hence repetition. Digital allows brands to reach as many people as possible, it grabs people’s attention and it allows for great frequency. He finally pointed out that radio is the perfect medium for a retention economy because it allows for ideas to be recycled until they stick in someone’s brain. Repetition gives way to retention and retention is everything in advertising.

 

Rich Mulholland presenting “old style”

 

Before presenting the next speaker, Azania and ‘Ray Ray’, treated the delegates to a comical skit of Azania having a gym workout in studio during her show and with this they drove home the point that radio is the theatre of the mind; one never really knows what goes on behind the scenes. Following the skit Claire Wright of the RAB UK took the stage to present the outstanding work which the bureau has done over the past 20 years. Entitled “Harnessing the power of radio: Learnings and insights from RAB UK”, her presentation revealed how the bureau has gained a 50% growth in audience and how it has affected the radio industry in the United Kingdom. A short video clip consisting of representatives from reputable media and advertising agencies all around the UK showed that RAB has put radio on the map as well as make it acceptable to creatives. It has helped radio transform into ways that talk to consumers and other industries. It is, among many other things, a complex yet simple and mundane thing which can become an exciting, modern industry body.

 

Claire Wright of the RAB UK

 

Claire also demonstrated the exponential revenue growth of radio against other mediums especially since the birth of digital and online. She divulged into the influence of radio through the following three stages: emotional influence, accountability and digital opportunity. She shared radio’s involvement in digital and social innovation through the RAB’s campaign called Britain Loves Radio. After which she concluded that the future of the RAB UK is, among other things, in creative development which is set to boost radio.

 

Justin Gomes of agency, FoxP2 shared secrets behind Frank.net’s brilliant radio adverts which have enabled the insurance company see R15.6 billion of cover sold and win the 2012 Apex Effectiveness Award. Justin has contributed to the creation of memorable ads which have made their way onto Talk Radio 702 Jenny Crwys-Williams’s show with Andy Rice.

 

Justin Gomes of FoxP2

“The power of radio gives opportunity for repetition and creativity which are both important for advertising,” he said.

 

A quick tea break prepared delegates for the long-awaited appearance by 5FM Morning Drive presenter Gareth Cliff. Arriving with mic in hand and no PowerPoint presentation, Gareth cut straight to the point that radio is about imagination and personal connection.

 

“People follow a personality; they don’t listen to a station anymore,” he said, “you can’t be everything to everybody or you’ll end up being nothing.”

 

5FM’s Gareth Cliff

 

He stressed that radio is not a performance and evidently he and his breakfast team can attest to this. He also spoke about his tacit relationship with SABC management as well as his independence in being the caretaker of a product of the SABC – the 5FM breakfast show. While he may be amusing, Gareth is candid and has informed views on radio. He highlighted the importance of social media networks as a tool to drive and interact with listeners.  “It’s about the listeners and what’s important to them,” he concluded.

 

Gareth’s talk warmed up the stage for creative genius, Rob McLennan, who was Cannes 2012’s Radio Jury President.  Fresh from his duties at Cannes, he shared his experiences at the world’s most prestigious advertising award ceremony. He got under the skin of many of the creatives in the theatre room as he spoke about why South Africa is the radio capital in the world for advertising. Firstly, radio is the oldest medium thus giving way for unlimited innovation. Secondly, SA consumes radio more than any other medium. He stressed that radio’s affordability feeds creativity and allows creatives to create compelling content. He finally praised SA at being the best in winning Gold every year at the Cannes Festival.

 

Rob McLennan

 

The monotone of the conference was interrupted by either a short skit featuring the MCs at the MetroFM studio or a question and answer session were prices from different radio stations were given away. Such activities preceded prolific writer and Chairman of Chillibush Communications, Victor Dlamini who also ended the second session of the day. Dressed in a colourful African print top, he took centre stage showcasing his photography in his presentation about the power of stereotypes. He explored and challenged stereotypes found in images and adverts and illustrated this by playing an Opel Corsa radio spot produced in Xhosa and a Lotto ad in Xitsonga.

 

Victor challenged creatives to take risks and break through barriers of political correctness. “Politeness makes advertising terrible,” he said, “say things deliberately; be troublemakers that are not naive.”

 

Azania later ran a tweet saying: “One of the failings of the rainbow nation is the political correctness.” @VictorDlamini #RadioWorks

 

Victor’s talk led the delegates into a much need lunch break which also allowed for mingling and networking.

Panel of experts

 

Session three of the conference opened up to a panel of industry experts including Draftfcb Social’s Qingqile ‘Wing-Wing’Mdlulwa, Marius van Rensburg of Ninety 9 Cents Communications, Lynn Joffe of Creatrix joined by MTN SA Chief Marketing Serame Taukobong and faciliated by Andy Rice.  The panel tackled a contentious issue involving language in radio advertising and the proneness of things being lost in translation.  Sensitivity to idiom and culture, new evolution bringing a new language i.e. twitter and facebook language and also listening to radio in native languages were just some of the issues that emerged from their discussion.

 

CEO of DMG Australia, Cathy ‘O Connor took over from the panel with her exciting talk about digital radio and how it has taken Australian radio to new heights since its launch 10 years ago. DMG Australia has seen growth in the digital sphere where more and more digital radio stations are created in the form of applications. The services offer a faster frequency and better enhancements thus becoming very popular in Australia. She said more money is injected into digital advertising and advised radio station managers to have a united voice in negotiating low cost access, space and incentive once the digital wave finally hits the SA’s radio industry.

 

Cathy O’ Connor

 

An eye-opening talk about how data impacts everything we do was presented by Abey Mokgwatsane, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather SA. He shared great insights about how the future agency needs to facilitate one-on-one relationships with consumers thus mastering communication with them. Thus creating a platform for innovation and compelling content. He highlighted that brands are starting to launch their own radio stations through applications therefore radio at large needs to activate the experience of social media.

Ogilvy’s Abey Mokgwatsane

 

Concluding his talk, he left a thought-provoking quote taken from the title of Jason Jennings and Laurence Houghton’s book:

“It’s Not the Big That Eat the Small…It’s the Fast That Eat the Slow.”

 

‘Ray Ray’ and Azania shared some of the funniest and most controversial ads that got pulled off air before giving way to the three last speakers of the day.

Azania and Ray Ray

 

“Someone who chooses to listen is a 1000 times more valuable than who is forced to listen,” said Craig Rodney, MD of Cerebra Communications as he introduced his talk about the rise and attraction towards digital content and the death of interruption based advertising.  He challenged widely held assumptions while also proposing to radio industry players to take advantage of digital opportunities by providing content and delivering it in a manner that listeners want to receive it.

 

“Advertising should be the delivery vehicle for content,” he concluded.

 

Founder and director of The Digital Marketing Academy, Walter Pike, dissected the role of radio in the social era in his personalised presentation that included pictures he took himself earlier that day. His sophistication left many in awe as he used his iPhone to page through his projected presentation revealing for the first time that the Internet has is a many-to-many relationship.  He stressed that social media has changed the marketing model; it is not about audiences however, it is about connections. Radio needs to adjust itself to suit the newest model.

 

A long yet insightful day was  finally wrapped up after John Smeddle of Leo Burnett in Dubai shared his views on the digital platform and radio in the United Arab Emirates.

 

Matona on stage with Azania and Ray Ray

 

After all the humour, the fun, the discussions and conversations, RAB General Manager pulled the curtain to a conference that was seasoned with truly incredible insights that turned many views and ideas about radio and advertising around.

 

Did you attend the conference? Please share your views.

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