Radio Specialist John Walls has a particular knack for zooming in on the situation and providing a well-balanced view on things as they stand. His finger-on-the-pulse account of radio ad spend in the motoring sector wouldn’t just put presidents to shame – it signals just how car brands are stepping up to the plate to make sure their campaigns really hit home…
In my previous life as a radio station sales manager we were routinely asked to predict advertising spend for the next 6 or 12 months.
The first thing i always did was to pull the spend for the automotive industry. If spend w
as up, it meant vehicle sales were up, and that meant that consumers were starting to open their wallets again.
invest in a new set of wheels. The first thing consumers do when they feel more financially confident is to
After all, there’s nothing quite like a new car to tell yourself, and your neighbours, that you’ve survived the recession.
On the flip side, if automotive spend was dropping, it meant that manufacturers and dealers were getting nervous, and consumers were starting to tighten their belts. When household budgets get tight, the car gets downgraded.
The automotive industry rarely spends to stimulate demand. They spend to take advantage of demand and economists have long used this industry as their ‘canary in a coalmine,’ their early-warning bell as to where the economy is headed.
Which is why I get very excited when I look at what the automotive industry is doing on radio right now.
According to Primedia Broadcasting JHB Sales Manager Andrew Cooper,automotive spend is definitely on the way up; “The automotive industry is our second biggest spending category behind financial services. We had 18 different manufacturers on air across our 4 stations in January and we’ve already had strong demand from all manufacturers for the first quarter of 2012”.
Ultimate Media’s experience in our first year of operation is that automotive radio spend is in rude health. Investing in radio has not been the issue. It’s rather been about the right way to invest in the medium.
Automotive is a major category for radio, but it’s traditionally been used to push retail offers like the recent BMW 2.99% interest offer. According to Cooper, many of the manufacturers use radio to run with retail offers off the back of new model launches which were advertised on TV.
Nothing wrong with this. TV makes you fall in love with the new model. Radio tells you where to buy it, how to buy it, and how to get the best price. Radio, in essence,closes the deal.
Take VW Claremont in the Western Cape where a recent radio campaign prompted this response from the client as an example;“we estimate that at least 20 of the car sales were directly linked to the exposure on KFM.
The results have been terrific and the dealership has been abuzz with activity ever since”!
While we’re not yet seeing a boom in new car launches on radio, we are beginning to see radio become a viable option in building the brands of manufacturers and dealers alike.
The automotive industry is starting to understand that radio delivers a captive market, literally captive in their cars. The car that they love, they hate, they wish they could upgrade. Imagine a soft drink advertiser knowing that every time a consumer hears their ad they will have a can of soft drink in their hand. Most advertisers would die for that!
BMW have been building brand on radio for years. But others have now caught on. They’ve twigged on to radio’s innate ability to connect very personally with listeners. “If the radio station is talking about it, then it must be good.”
Here are 3 great examples to ponder on;
- Ray Levin of Kia Motors has used radio to build the Kia brand significantly over the last few years. They leveraged their status as official sponsors of the 2010 FIFA World Cup by owning key radio properties, such as the ‘Countdown Clock’ on Talk Radio 702.
- They maximised their radio presence by giving away a Kia Soul on the morning of the opening day of the World Cup across multiple stations. Kia then extended their radio presence by taking ownership of the ‘Take 40’ countdown on94.7 Highveld and KFM. It’s a clever sponsorship, which gives them brand presence within a unique space, along with a forum to promote key benefits of their vehicles.
- Kia then took a decision to dominate a defined space within radio with a weekly sponsorship under the East Coast Radio ‘Funsunzi’ banner. After all, it’s so much easier to stand out on radio, than in the clutter of automotive advertising on TV.
- Frank McDouall of Carfind.co.za also discovered that radio is a great way to build affinity with a brand. He developed the concept of ‘Carfind of the Week’ and made it a reality on Heart 104.9 FM.
- Every Tuesday between 09h00 – 12h00pm the mid-morning show’s Saskia and Mel would paint a picture of a typical Capetonian. It could be the Mom who lifts 3 kids every day, or the surfer dude, or the aspiring female executive.
- Listeners are then directed to the Carfind.co.za website to find the perfect car for each day’s candidate. The listener with the best choice of car wins a cash prize. Presenter and station affinity becomes affinity for the Carfind.co.za brand.
- SMG is a multi-dealer BMW franchise with branches in KZN and Western Cape. All motor dealers are judged on a regular basis by means of a customer service survey of consumers.
- This survey asks customers to judge a dealership on the basis of ‘poor, fair, good, very good, excellent.” Mark Ross, Dealer Principal of SMG Cape Town, understood that he needed to speak to consumers in a language they would be familiar with. He chose radio to do this.
- “Radio has so entrenched our pay-off line which is; ‘Not good, not very good, but excellent’ that our customers regularly quote it back to us”, he says.
Figures aside, radio is a vibrant medium for the automotive industry – certainly with the moving of cars off showrooms every Saturday morning – and most definitely with the building of automotive brands.