Feature | Radio: The new & exciting promotion mantra

Out of sight is out of mind is the new mantra. In modern life, visibility plays an important role. This rule implies to all fields; especially to advertising. Today, advertising is not just informing people about a product. Promotions form an integral part of advertising.
Be it a film or a new television show, promotions play a key role in forming a connect with the audiences. Currently, a large number of movie producers are opting for radio as an active means of promotion. Radio has been largely recognized as a personal medium because of the personal touch and connect it forms with the masses. Recently, movies like Rowdy Rathore, Teri Meri Kahaani and Bol Bachchan have exploited the medium for promotion. What is the future of this trend, how is radio increasingly becoming the hotspot for movie promotions and what are the benefits that this trend offers are some of the things that Adgully tried to find out as it spoke to marketers and industry experts.
Rabe T. Iyer - Business Head, 92.7 BIG FM said, “Radio has a penetration of 30% and reaches out to almost 135 million listeners across the country. This reach advantage makes radio an inseparable part of movie or television show launches. Specifically for films, music can get popular much before the movie release.  Radio plays a significant role in both familiarizing & popularizing the song. Hence, radio playouts is an extremely critical component as it’s the single biggest source of listening to music in the country today.”
Talking about the increasing number of television shows being promoted on radio, he said, “In television; apart from the reach factor, the audience profile of radio mirrors most GEC audiences which works excellently for channels. Also, the plethora of integration possibilities & interactivity the medium offers makes sure that radio plays an active role in the media plans.”
Rabe exclaims that almost every film gets promoted in one form the other depending on the stars, but approximately there is around 20 – 25% films spend on radio. He also adds that both Bollywood and regional movies are promoted on radio.
Emphasizing on the way the promotions are executed, he said, “There is always a creative angle depending on the storyline. For most big films the briefs are clear as the production houses have their creative pegs ready and radio delivers solution based brief.”
Expressing his views on the same, Rajat Uppal General Manager - Marketing, 93.5 Red FM, said, “For television shows, radio is the highest spend besides print, when it comes to promotions. The obvious reasons for this seem to be the reach that radio provides and also because aggressive campaigns can be planned on radio before show launches. Typically, a lot of General Entertainment Channels use radio regularly to promote their shows.”
Commenting on the recent trend of movie promotions on radio, he said, “A majority of movies look at spending on radio or they essentially look at building partnerships with radio stations. Radio promotions help them to reach the audiences in a better manner and most importantly it helps to create publicity for the movie.”
Providing further insight, Rajat explains, “Radio stations do a lot of engagement based contests for movies, wherein celebrities visit radio stations, interact with listeners and many a times listeners also get to meet the stars personally. What is interesting to note that this also helps radio stations provide exclusive content to their listeners.”
Elaborating with an example he says, “Red FM recently promoted Rowdy Rathore ; wherein Sonakshi  Sinha and Akshay Kumar visited five Red FM stations. We did a five city contest for the movie in which we hunted for the rowdy gangs from the city and the winners of the contest  got to meet the stars.”
Rajat says that although both Bollywood and regional movies are promoted on radio, Bollywood is where the money lies. He exclaims that at Red FM, the promotions are never straitjacketed and have an inherent creative bent to them.
Ashit Kukian-President & Chief Operating Officer at Radio City 91.1 FM said, “It is great to see that, radio is today predominantly doing a lot of Bollywood related content which is what the listeners want. Radio promotions provide a direct access to the kind of audiences who will ultimately go and watch the movie. This is precisely why most of the producers today go in for promotions on radio stations because of the direct access that the medium provides. It is the best possible medium to talk about either the music or the movie or the content.”
Ashit asserts that the same is applicable to television shows because listeners ultimately become television viewers and movie goers. He also exclaims that television is also the largest category in terms of investment, also the scale of television promotions is much larger.
Delving on some of the innovations that are done while promoting movies on radio, he says, “Promotions either talk about a song which the producer is banking to be a huge hit, or the starcast or a particular character. It all depends on how the producer wants to promote and what is the concept they want to take forward in terms of promotion. As far as radio is concerned, radio can do a whole lot of innovations. At Radio City, we have a property called “Blue Carpet” exclusively for movie releases. It is a popular concept today. Bol Bachchan, the recently released movie was a part of this property.”
Radio City 91.1 FM also plans to have movie promotions in places like Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. Ashit says, “Wherever, there is interest in movies, radio happens to be an interesting medium to get across to audiences. We have a specialized team that manages the film entertainment business. We have done a lot of Hollywood promotions too. The audiences for Hollywood though are limited. It is the still the local language that dominates from a radio perspective.”
We also spoke to George Sebastian – COO, Club FM and GM Marketing, Mathrubhumi to have a regional perspective on the issue.
He said, “ In Kerala, there are four radio stations. Entertainment media is not promoted heavily on radio here. Compared to cities like Mumbai and Delhi , the movie promotion scene on radio is not quite active in Kerala. The captive strength of radio is still to be utilized. As a medium, radio is not at the top of the media plans for people who are releasing a movie or television programs.”
Talking about Club FM’s promotion initiatives he said, “Club FM has tied up with movie launches in the past. We have also had a lot of on-air content for movie promotions ; wherein we invited celebrities to the studio and held contests outside theatres. We took the whole awareness and interest in movies to a new level by using radio as a means of promotion in cities. It just goes to prove the reach that radio as a medium has.” 
Providing deeper insights, he said, “ Club FM for instance, conducted a radio promotion for a Malayalam film called Aakasha Gopuram. The film featuring Mohanlal was an offbeat film which set it apart from the usual song and dance movies. There were contests held , through which tickets for the movie could be won. We also held road shows in colleges. Some of the activities involved were mimicry acts of Mohanlal. The element of sound was exploited to the fullest. Club FM was the only medium which promoted the film in Kerala.”
George points out that Mathrubhumi has a special division called Mathrubhumi music which buys rights to film music, and organizes music promotions in which the music of movies is released. Singers, directors, actors and lyricists are invited to the studio for the music release. He also laments that fact that anybody who is releasing an album does not look at radio as a medium that will take the promotion to an altogether different level.  He believes that the credibility and the impact that the radio jockey has helps movie promotions or for that matter brand promotions.
Rafiq Gangjee -Vice President , Marketing & Communications at Yash Raj Films said he recalls the nostalgic days when Amin Sayani promoted films on radio in his  own magical way. He strongly believes that movie promotion was at its peak in those days.
Talking about the current trend of movies being promoted on radio, he says, “People have stopped “listening” to music. All music has per force become visually led. I have heard a lot of people say that when they hear film music on radio, they are actually, more often than not, playing out the video in their mind! However, it is great fun to promote a film on radio if done differently. This form of promotion plays a dual role – stars going to radio stations and talking about the music as well as it being great fun for the listeners.”
Rafiq exclaims, “Radio stations are also thrilled to have the artists on air and have them interact with their listeners. But in terms of spot buying, there is not too much happening. Just playing out a 30 secs cut of the song with a release date mention, doesn’t work for us. We’d rather do it creatively or not at all. It is also, more often than not, not cost effective compared to spot buys on TV, which are today, quite often, at par. Radio only becomes effective if supported by RJ mentions, who have a great fan following. And this doesn’t come at a price.  Television shows on the other hand, can effectively use the medium to push out their content. Again, it is the nature of their content – a change in track, an announcement of a reality show, change in timings, etc.”
He says, “ Television as a promotional medium far outweighs radio. I guess it has more to do with the fact that the music has to be “seen”. Radio is a cost-effective medium at a local level, even used by regional movies in their own space.”
Shedding light on the style of promotion used on radio, Rafiq said, “The promotion needs to have a creative angle to it. Radio is far more topical as a medium and the listening environment probably lends itself to such an approach. Maybe from a metro perspective and the drive-time listening syndrome, the day’s events, traffic snarls, sports and such other events, form an integral part of station programming.”
Illustrating with an example, he said, “When “Badmaash Company”  released in 2010, there was a lot of news about various scams being exposed. We used this to our advantage as the film fitted in very well with what was happening. Of course, not all films or situations can necessarily find a great creative and topical angle, but that should be the effort. You have to be interesting enough to be want to be heard.”
It emerges that irrespective of whether the promotion is done for a movie or a television show, the content has to seamlessly seep in. There has to be a kind of connect in order to build greater engagement with audiences. Most importantly, the potential of radio needs to be tapped and exploited to the fullest. | By Aditi Popat [aditi(at)adgully.com]

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