It’s the start of 2016 and virtually every radio and TV station in the country has just finished rolling out their tried and tested launch promos for the year ahead.
Building anticipation towards something new or the return of a show that everyone loves is one of the most powerful things you can do as a programmer.
Get it right and you’ve started the year with genuine momentum, as Guy Dobson always said to me “radio is a game of momentum” (Warning: This is the only quote I’ll use from Guy which isn’t littered with f bombs).
I reckon the best example of an anticipation campaign in the real world is the build up to Xmas Day.
For those of us who have kids, you would know that creating the frenzy and pure unadulterated excitement around Santa coming is so much fun.
You know how it works, the countdown happens from December 1 – “how many more sleeps now little Jimmy?”. You make sure that the presents go under the tree on Xmas Eve so that the moment of seeing the room filled with toys on Xmas morning is even more exciting.
Then by lunch time when the rellies have arrived, you’re over it… I’m over it.
Let’s think about some other moments where anticipation builds to an event.
What about the anticipation of child-birth. Will it be a boy or a girl? And are you in fact the father of the child?
And think about the anticipation building for footy fans in March before the new season starts. How will your team go? (I barrack for Carlton, don’t ask).
Virtually every station on FM does re-launch promos but, seriously, it sounds like we’ve taken last year’s script and just changed the date. “B’fast show is back, with audio bite, so is the drive show, with audio bite and here’s our music position with song hooks.”
Watching TV over summer and particularly seeing the great work that Channel 7 does to promote it’s line-up during the tennis it seems to me there’s an opportunity for radio to add some flair and creativity to it’s “back in 2016” promos.
And it’s not just about building hype for the start of the new year, some of the best promotions and story arcs happen after they’ve been given a massive 2 week build up with some cleverly written promos that create intrigue and get people talking.
Jamie Angel who is without question the best promo writer I have ever worked with reminded me of one of the great tease campaigns on 2dayFM back in the early 2000s, (I’m pretty sure it was my idea but he’s claiming it…) which didn’t have a single word in any of the production.
It was the “the Saint” sting that we used for The Fugitive. This ran for 2 weeks as a sweeper between songs with no other messaging, no call to action, no screaming target females saying “oh my god!”, it was just the 2 second audio of the Saint sting but I’m pretty sure that everyone listening knew exactly what was coming.
Here’s the point.
That precious 45 second free commercial you reward yourself with at the start of every ad break is the most important piece of real estate on your station. It’s where you get to build the story of your brand. That story can either be a thrilling adventure with more twists and turns than a Steven Spielberg blockbuster or it can be like another episode of Coronation Street.
I can always tell if a radio station is run by a creative product team who’s challenging themselves with new and interesting concepts or one that’s just going through the motions simply by the quality of their promos.
Scary thing is, I reckon the audience can too.
Happy new year.