What goes around comes around – thanks to digital technology. Back in the day when I worked for WRIF here in Detroit, we were the bumper sticker kings. Those small racetrack-shaped stickers were a huge part of out audience outreach efforts. We made ample use of that familiar logo shape to highlight rock bands, local sports teams, our jocks, and of course, the station itself in a series of colorful stickers that rapidly became collector's items.
It was simple really. We produced the content, and the audience took care of the distribution thanks to millions of cars and truck bumpers all over the Motor City. I used to walk through mall parking lots counting our stickers, a sure sign we were a hot station and a reflection of who the audience aspired to be.
Alas, those days ended. Of course, the stickers cost money, and even though we frequently sponsored the backs, the whole thing got pricey and cumbersome. Couple that with a reluctance on the part of the audience to adorn their vehicles with radio station logos, and the machine gradually broke down.
But now it's back, thanks to those wizards in Cupertino.
You may have seen the new TV campaign for the iPhone 7, all based around stickers you can download to your phone and use in text messaging. Here's the spot:
That led to a light bulb going off in the mind of Beasley Detroit's Digital Director, Chris Brunt. The idea was to take the old station bumper sticker concept and modernize it through the magic of the iPhone. From there, jācapps' VP/Development, Kate Levy, did what she does best. Make it happen.
Our group at jācapps has a long habit of “firsts,” and when a cool idea comes along like station stickers on your iPhone, things get done quickly.
Kudos to the WRIF team, and specifically, Dave & Chuck the Freak, the station's top-rated morning show that has always been innovative in the tech space. Their mobile game app made our “Radio's Most Innovative” honor back in 2015.
This time around, their 9-pack of stickers sporting their caricatures is packed with catch-phrases that can be dropped and dragged into texts for emphasis, fun, outrage, and a range of emotions. And of course, snark.
And in the process, a radio station taps into a new piece of mobile technology, reviving a tradition while perhaps starting a new one.
Huffington Post‘s Christine Roberts calls sticker packs “an opportunity to grow your audience.” Of course, the sticker initiative she's referring to was directed at Gen Z – teenagers looking for new ways to express themselves on their phones. Will this trend catch on with older generations as they so often do?
Could these mobile stickers end up being “the next big marketing thing” for radio in the mobile space?
Will they spur a new era of radio sticker marketing that has nothing to do with bumpers and everything to do with mobile gadgets that have replaced Walkmans and iPods?
Will stations like WRIF that were once famous for stickers bring them back in this new mobile format?
We don't know the answers, of course. But we do know that if we're not constantly innovating in the digital space and experimenting with new engagement tools, radio will not progress as an industry.
A jācapps video about mobile stickers and how they work is below:
For more information, contact jācapps here.