All eyes…and ears…are focused on the UK this week.
Queen Elizabeth’s passing specifically, and the ascension of Prince/now King Charles, and “the royals” in general captivate us in America. The current iconic news from the British Isles has us captivated.
Of course, the Brits have been setting a lot of our cultural trends in the States for decades. We’re coming up on 60 years since the British Invasion took over the U.S. music charts, starting with the Beatles. We still feel the tsunami-like impact of that movement all these years later.
And now, a British radio operator is making waves, changing up the way radio is messaging its call to action in 2022. The channel is called Heart (cool name), owned and operated by a company called Global.
It’s not difficult to break down their latest strategy. Heart is banking its growth and expansion on new distribution technology – specifically Amazon Echo – a.k.a. “Alexa.”
Our Techsurveys for commercial, public, and Christian music radio have revealed that particularly in the past couple years, a prime “use case’ for smart speakers is….
…listening to AM/FM radio stations.
This year’s Techsurvey 2022 is a case in point. The #3 most frequent use of smart speakers among core radio listeners is shouting out their favorite stations:
Undoubtedly, the Heart team and their agency, Adam & Eve/DDB, saw the same opportunity in the UK (although Alexa is clearly the more popular smart speaker brand in the U.S. than across the pond).
And they’re leaning into it….heavily.
A slick new TV spot asks for the order, integrating Heart’s airstaff with everyday people going through their daily routines. Here’s the commercial they’ve launched:
When I pulled it off YouTube yesterday, it already had north of one million views. And that’s Lizzo on the soundtrack singing “It’s About Damn Time.”
If you’ve worked in U.S. radio for a time, you’ve seen variants of this TV commercial before, back when stations and morning shows were commonly marketed on television. The concept – the morning show sitting with the average family in the kitchen or packing the team in the car for the commute to work – was utilized in multiple markets here in American radio back in the 70’s and 80’s.
The difference – and it’s a big one – is that Global sees a rich opportunity to expand its audience, while recognizing that “regular radios” are nowhere near as ubiquitous in UK homes as they once were.
Still, this is quite an investment. So, what is Global thinking?
In a story in The Drum, it turns out the concept is a partnership with Amazon. (Wonder if they’d be open to doing something here?)
In “Why a radio channel ran a TV ad urging people to listen on Amazon Alexa,” Samantha Codrington, director brand marketing at Global, explains that besides marketing Heart’s personalities, the main goal is to “teach” the audience they can listen to radio – specifically Heart – on Amazon Alexa devices.
As she notes, “The brief was simple – to grow awareness that you can listen to Heart on an Alexa. We’re trying to encourage a new habit, in a new place, with new tech. Radio is dead easy to listen to on Alexa devices, but not everyone knows that.”
if it were only that simple. Of course, the impact of the campaign will be simple to measure, utilizing “brand lift” studies and the ratings.
At the end of the day, it’s all about encouraging an audience to acquire (or us their) Alexa devices, and say, “Alexa, play Heart.”
As my British friends might say, “Brilliant!”
I hope it works for them, and encourages other radio broadcasters to invest in big marketing efforts for their stations.
There was a time when British broadcasters would journey to the U.S., sit in hotel rooms in New York, L.A., and Chicago to listen to remarkable American radio stations.
As I’ve learned over the years at Radio Days conferences, innovative radio is being done in the UK, and throughout Europe, Australia, and in other countries far from U.S. shores.
Today, wouldn’t it be nice if that trend reversed, and the phenomenon of TV campaigns made their way back across the Atlantic?
(OK, a consultant can dream.)
The Heart campaign may be red-themed, but it will make most American radio broadcasters green with envy when they see it.
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