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    There was a time when ad spots on data tapes (and sometimes even on spools) were couriered from other cities to be aired in Chennai. This was before FM was privatised and a few of us had a couple of hours on-air. The ad breaks were few and far between, which meant you could pack 12 to 14 songs in an hour.
    On some days, there would be no commercial breaks at all. Advertisers thought twice before shelling out money on radio, while some simply didn’t believe that advertising on radio could earn them profits. The scenario has changed drastically post 2003. Ad breaks appear more often than songs, cluttering the soundscape.
    Today the brands that advertise want their products to be showcased not just in an ad break; they want it made visible to the public. This has prompted many radio units to have their own on-ground activation team. Their job is to bring the product closer to the right target group. After all, you can’t be seen promoting the use of sweaters in summer, especially in a place like Chennai.
    Every product on the shelf has a target group and it’s this understanding that dictates the success of any on-ground activity conducted by a radio station. Advertisers find on-ground gigs more realistic as they get to see their consumers, which also gets them instant feedback about their product.
    Car manufacturers, hospitals, FMCGs and educational institutions have all gone live with their products in public. Execution of any outdoor venture is not an easy job. Listeners have to be informed and made aware of the same on-air. Activities have to be planned out and the right audience needs to make their presence felt in order to impress the advertiser at the end of it all.
    Not all stations get it right, but the ones that do know now that an activation team is a must-have for any radio unit. See you next week with more radio talk.

    — talkingradio@gmail.com
    The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.

    Niladri

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