Published: 6 September 2011 on Media Update
By Darren Gilbert
On 1 September, agency, media and radio personnel gathered at Crystal Towers for the Cape Town leg of RadioWorks 2011. With the theme of ‘TILT’ and a focus on radio from a different angle, RAB South Africa had promised an entertaining day. As its general manager, Gilda de Araujo, said, it’s a conference that relies on “hard core market intelligence that delegates will be unable to garner anywhere else”. It proved to be just that.
Former 5FM broadcaster, Mark Gilman, began the conference with his signature style. Energetic and comic with a touch of seriousness which included poking fun at Capetonians, his talk focused on what radio programming should really be – fun. As he claims, everything he did on air started with a laugh and while some may regard this as ridiculous, he has a point. Successful radio broadcasting relies on engaging with your audience, and what better way to include them than by being entertaining?
He pointed out that programming does not just consist of the news. In order to make it worthwhile, you need to say something that will make people tune in and keep listening. There is a reason why people still turn on the radio – it is for quality companionship, so give it to them. Radio 2000 DJ and emcee for the day, David Mashabela, certainly knew all about audience engagement as he entertained the small crowd between presentations with his own music video and comic anecdotes.
Barrett Whiteford, head of marketing at FNB’s credit card division, followed on from Gilman by putting a more corporate slant on the proceedings. However, while the topic turned to advertising in the banking sector, the focus was placed more on the success of the ‘Steve’ ad campaign than on advertising as a whole. If you don’t know the ads, they involve a call centre agent phoning people to try and get them to change to bank X, only to be told that FNB is better.
“It’s a classic turning of the tables, but engaging,” as Whiteford added, and had initially proved so popular that more ads were created. It also had DJs talking about the ads and endorsing FNB of their own accord – the type of advertising that you can’t buy, as Whiteford said. Unfortunately, ‘Steve’ has become so well known that a Steve who was working in the FNB call centre had to move to a different department for fear of being abused by anyone he called. That in itself displayed the success of the campaign, which resulted in a 40% lift in sales which are still rising.
The final presentation for the first session had conference speaking newbies, Jenny Glover and Brent Singer of Net#work BBDO, share their insights into the Cannes judging process, which included a mneumonic device on how to create an award-winning radio advert. Despite their inexperience with such presentations, listening to the creatives talk about creativity was engaging and produced one of the best quotes of the day – “Stop treating radio like a slapper.”
The two creative directors from the Johannesburg-based agency were all about giving radio its due, something which Tony Hertz, the first speaker of the mid-morning session, agreed with. The only person in the world to win both a black and yellow D&ampampampampAD pencil for radio, the British director and writer had the opportunity to impart his secrets of creative radio advertising. He said, “The big secret is that there are no secrets,” but radio advertising is about finding a feeling and tapping into it. It’s time people begin to treat radio with a more respect.
MTN is one such brand that has treated radio with respect, as it used the medium for its first campaign. This was an aside as Ryan Gould, general manager of brand and communication for MTN SA, brought a client’s perspective on advertising to the conference, focusing specifically on last year’s Ayoba campaign. For Gould, as Hertz said before him, the success of the campaign lay in the creation of a ‘feeling’.
John Walls, director of Ultimate Media, ended off the mid-morning session with his presentation on the rise of non-traditional radio solutions, and his solutions for media strategists in a changing environment, where results are needed beyond the standard 30 seconds that most radio ads provide.
After lunch, attendees had a choice of speakers, which included Mark Gilman continuing his entertaining rant on branded programme technology; RadioGAUGE International’s Jason Brownlee and Lebo Motshegoa of Foshizi on radio insights; and Tony Hertz on radio for art directors.
Thought leader Khaya Dlanga who, when not tweeting all day, is senior communication manager for Coca-Cola, ended where Gilman had begun the day by speaking about brands and telling their stories, creating an entertaining and fitting end to what RAB South Africa had promised – engaging and fun, but serious and content rich.