When was the last time you really listened through a commercial break on radio? Never? Then try it. Chances are that out of the four, five or six spots that may roll out one-after-the-other, three to four would be your local optician, beautician, retail outlet or coaching class. If you are lucky enough, you may spot your florist, hotelier, auto mechanic … even brand marketing consultants and other service providers on radio.
Yes, the FM airwaves have emerged as a convenient gateway for local as well as ultra-local advertiser to make his or her presence felt. What is interesting is that these advertisers, who would otherwise depend on word-of-mouth, pamphlets, brochures or inane advertisements in local supplements of newspapers, are welcoming the opportunity with open arms.
"Radio substitutes your city-specific supplements in the paper," explains Sudhir Mathur, senior vice-president, in charge of global marketing at Aptech, a leading provider of IT training and education. "It is local, city-centric and above all, the medium talks, serving the purpose of a local advertiser."
Aptech, for instance, had its flagship brand (goes by the same name) as well as Arena (into multimedia and animation training) on radio last year. "We advertised the two on separate occasions, which was on an experimental basis," states Mathur. "This year, however, we have all three brands, Aptech, Arena and Asset (into technology training) on radio."
If Aptech began last year, Beacon Holidays, a tour company into holiday packages to Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe, took the plunge into radio advertising at the end of March-April this year. "We were doing a specific promotion, which we felt was best suited for radio since the medium is focused and happening," says Heena Munshaw, managing director, Beacon Holidays. "Awareness and visibility is high, and it has significant reach."
Agrees Jagdeep Kapoor, head of Samsika Marketing Consultants, a nine-year-old brand marketing strategic consultancy, which has also been advertising on radio for the last six months, "Though audio-visual is the best, it is very expensive. Audio, on the other hand, is very powerful and cuts across masses. We were looking to not only generate inquiries but also create awareness about building brands and to grow the category."
Kapoor's 'brand mantra a day' on Radio City not only has regular listeners from the corporate world including entrepreneurs and MBA students, but, professionals such as doctors, housewives, large hotels and small business establishments too have emerged as a keen listener base, he claims. "The MD of a company as well as his driver is listening to radio when traveling in a car. So you can imagine the reach. We had a situation where 744 MBAs applied to Samsika Marketing in the hope of joining us and 72 per cent of them had heard my brand mantras."
If Kapoor swears by the reach of radio, Nilesh Shah, COO, Navneet Edutainment Ltd (into educational products), who advertised for a month-and-a-half on radio this year, views the medium with some amount of skepticism. "Every new medium has a novelty factor attached to it. To assume radio has great reach is a mistake given the usage pattern of FM in Mumbai where consumers jump from station to station till they can listen to music. From a brand's manager perspective, I am not too sure whether the relevant audience is listening to my message in the end."
Not everybody, though, is complaining. Priya Hira, head of sales and marketing, Lotus Suites, a premier business ecotel (part of the Orchid group of hotels), adds, "We began with radio during New Year (2003) when we launched our restaurant Circus Circus. Subsequently, we have used the medium to advertise our food festivals, and, I must say that the response was good. The medium does work within city limits." Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!