To say it’s been brutal to those who chose the radio business as a career path is, unfortunately, an understatement.
Every few days, I hear about another round of job cuts, or rumors to the same. On-air talent, programmers, salespeople, broadcast producers and more continue to be let go.
I blame consolidation and syndication. And it’s been going on for years.
Prior to the passage of The Act in January 1996, the radio business was robust in this country. You had thousands of FM and AM stations dotting the nation. The majority of them were owned by small to medium sized companies.
The Act dramatically changed that landscape by removing or changing most of the media ownership rules and caps in place at the time.
Enter the era of the large radio ownership groups.
Today, there are six radio ownership groups that control more than 100 stations each. The largest, Clear Channel Communications, divested themselves of 448 stations in 2007, yet still owns more than 840 stations and coincidentally, announced mass layoffs just a week or two ago.
Second is Cumulus, with about a third of that number of stations. If they all continue to follow the ‘less is more’ philosophy, there will be even more creative and very talented people out on the street.
To best illustrate the comparison between pre-Act and post-Act, let’s look at some specifics.
During my tenure with CBS Radio, I was a sales representative for WYNF-FM and WSUN-AM in Tampa. YNF had its own management, on-air talent, programmers, engineers, salespeople, promotions personnel and a complete accounting and traffic staff.
Our sister station, WSUN-AM, also had its own on-air talent and programmers. All told, we probably had somewhere around 60 or 70 people working for those two stations.
It was the way radio was meant to be.
The station was unique in its programming, had great talent, a loyal following and was a real trendsetter musically. And the ‘numbers’ bore that out, allowing for CBS to garner some very nice profits from the two stations.
In August of 1993, the stations were sold to another large radio group and today that group owns 6 stations in the Tampa market.
You would think that’s a lot of stations for one company to own in a market, but it is easy today to find ownership groups running six, seven or even eight stations in a single market.
But here’s the rub: now, there’s one, maybe two, program directors. One General Manager. One sales staff. One promotions department. One accounting and traffic department. You get the idea. That’s a lot of people out the door.
Another beat down to full employment is syndicated programming.
This programming, primarily of the news/talk format, is much more prevalent today than ever.
That means local talent comes in second to nationally recognized (cheaper) talent, brought to you direct from New York City, or L.A. It might be Rush, or perhaps Ryan Seacrest, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck.
Regardless, it’s just more jobs lost and it is wrecking havoc with our variety of voice. Local creativity and originality are gone. There’s no differentiation any more. You hear the same thing, coast to coast.
Consolidation of our radio stations is a serious issue that needs to be addressed sooner than later.
Without revisions to Title II, we’re going to see the destruction of the radio industry’s talent, sales and management base continue. The large broadcast groups have mismanaged the “efficiencies” in consolidation. It’s now nothing more than a code word for job cuts.
By Emily Bryson York
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AdAge.com) — General Mills, one of the package-food industry’s top performers, laid out a number of recent marketing successes at the Consumer Analysts Group of New York conference this morning, and offered a preview of the rest of its fiscal year.
The company has staunchly supported consumer-marketing spending increases — 19% in the first half of fiscal 2009, which began in June — while competitors, including Kellogg and Kraft, have begun to scale back on the heady marketing outlays of 2008, instead preaching bundling and greater return on investment. General Mills estimates that its consumer-marketing spending will be up by “double digits” for the full fiscal year.
CEO Ken Powell has repeatedly said that it’s particularly important to support well-known brands during the current economy.
“We’re meeting here in Florida at a time of great economic uncertainty around the world,” Mr. Powell said. “General Mills has weathered the storm due in large part to the strength of our product categories and the strength of our brands.” He underscored that the company has a number of well-known 50-year-old brands, such as Cheerios and Pillsbury, as well as 30-year-old brands such as Yoplait and Nature Valley, that consumers trust.
General Mills’ sales have responded well to increased marketing support as consumers are eating more at home. Sales grew 11% in the first half of fiscal 2009, to $7.5 billion. The company has raised guidance with each of the first two quarters. General Mills is doing so well that analysts had been expecting the company to raise its earnings guidance again this morning.
For the balance of 2009, the company said it is planning a broadcast blitz for its cereal brands. Ian Friendly, chief operating officer of U.S. retail operations, said he expects the ad program to generate the biggest bump in sales. The company’s Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Multigrain Cheerios and Lucky Charms have been faring particularly well. General Mills is launching Banana Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Chex, and Fiber One Frosted Shredded Wheat cereals in the coming months.
Some of these products are likely to be advertised to baby boomers, who Mr. Friendly noted will make up about half of the U.S. population by 2010. “When I started here in 1983, we didn’t do much advertising to baby boomers,” he said, adding that boomers are eating more cereal as they age. “We’re targeting them directly now.”
The company is also working harder to target Hispanics, with Progresso products such as Menudo being tested in Texas. Mr. Friendly said the company credits Hispanic-targeted advertising for Honey Nut Cheerios with a 35% increase in year-to-date sales with those consumers. Bromley Communications is General Mills’ Hispanic agency.
But while the bulk of the company’s spend remains on TV, Mr. Friendly said in a conference with reporters that it has begun to see significantly higher return on digital investment. General Mills has been diverting funds online, driving traffic to recipe sites such as BettyCrocker.com. The company’s cooking sites had about 8 million visitors last month. General Mills also recently launched a free Betty Crocker iPhone application, which offers meal suggestions based on what’s in a consumer’s pantry.
“We are seeing very high returns from digital than broadcast,” Mr. Friendly said, declining to give the percentage of spending that’s moved online. “It’s not that our TV ads don’t work, but when you’re watching TV you’re doing it for a different reason. When you go to a website you have a very specific purpose.”
General Mills’ agencies include Saatchi & Saatchi and Cassanova.
THE last two Saturday nights, CBS’s prime-time lineup included “Game Show in My Head,” “48 Hours Mystery” — and lots of infomercials.
The two-minute commercials, for a DVD set of “The World at War” and a CD of relaxing classical music, both from Time Life, ran during almost every show on the network’s recent Saturday nights.
It is a sign of just how bad the advertising market is: infomercials are running during network prime time, filling slots that automobiles and banks once owned.
“The economy is the No. 1 focus for everyone, and it affects the advertisers and the rates,” said Pat Boos, the senior vice president for broadcast, acquisition and marketing at Direct Holdings Americas, which licenses the Time Life brand.
“When someone pulls off the air, like a pharmaceutical or medical company or a sports company, the networks sometimes find themselves with last-minute dead space,” she said. “We can come in and say, we’ve got a tape ready, we’ve got the product ready.”
Ms. Boos said that Time Life was running double the number of prime-time spots that it did a year ago. Networks try to avoid infomercial advertisers, because they pay “a fraction of what general advertising costs,” said Nancy Duitch, the chief executive of Vertical Branding, which runs infomercials for its products like the Steam Buddy and the Nicer Dicer. Although her rates vary, she said she often paid as little as 5 percent of what a general advertiser would.
When you’re thinking about starting a new company, don’t forget about the impact a great logo will have for your new brand. As we all know, your brand is much more than just a sweet logo, but it’s a great way to get things started.
From a creative standpoint, so much of what you will be doing in the future to communicate with your customers will flow right out of that design, so make the investment and be sure to get it right from the beginning.
Several years ago I met Pete, one of the designers in The Creekbed and owner of one of the finer design/brand studios here in DC. He’s one of the best in the business these days and I’m proud to say he’s part of the team. He’s produced award-winning logos for The Grammys, Rouge at the MGM Grand in Vegas, True Creek and so many more. Take a moment to look at some of his eye-catching work below.
Here’s a good start for your next creative brief.
Background/Overview: Why are we advertising?
Target audience: Who are we talking to?
Target audience: What do they currently think?
What is the objective, the purpose of the ad?
What do we want to say?
What distinguishes us from the competition?
What are the supporting rational and emotional ‘reasons to believe?
What type of relationship do we have with our customers, stated in human terms?
What have we done in the past that has been the most productive?
What do we need and when do we need it?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2009
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA – David may have slew Goliath, but can a small Virginia ad agency slay the state’s big tobacco industry?
Joseph Young, president of True Creek, Inc, an advertising agency in Alexandria, Virginia has created a series of ads in support of the legislation banning smoking in indoor restaurants and bars that is pending in Virginia.
“I am proud to have commissioned this wonderful artwork. I really want to make sure the message is sent to the voters of Virginia in a loud and clear way…that they still have time to contact their representatives to make sure the Indoor Clean Air Act is passed. Now is the time to act and make that call. As we say in the ad copy, it’s time to clear the air for the common health of the Commonwealth, “ Young said.
“On a personal note, my mother was stricken with esophageal cancer five years ago. Through her determination and upbeat spirit, she was able to beat the disease. It’s my hope that the voters in Virginia have that same level of determination in supporting this bill,” Young said.
Last Tuesday, Young presented his ads to the House bill sponsor, Delegate David Englin, his communication team, and others interested in the legislation. Thursday, the Virginia Senate approved four bills dealing with the issue. The legislation then went to the House, where revisions and compromises were made. It’s possible the legislation will be voted on either Monday or Tuesday.
The provocative ads feature headlines such as “Formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide and arsenic shouldn’t be on the menu anymore.” and “The Virginia house killed bills in recent years to restrict smoking. 1,700 Virginians were killed in each of those recent years by secondhand smoke.”
Well, I guess the question had to be asked these days. With all of the dollars being smacked around in D.C., what are your thoughts on how the stimulus package currently in front of Congress will (or will not) help the advertising and marketing industry?
Always love the USA TODAY instant spot rankings from the Superbowl. Here are the top ten, with length , quarter played and score:
Doritos Crystal ball sees free Doritos. 30 1st 8.46
Budweiser Clydesdale’s romance with circus horse. 60 2nd 8.42
Budweiser Clydesdale can fetch. 30 2nd 8.26
Bridgestone Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head take a drive. 30 2nd 7.83
Doritos Superpowers of Doritos’ crunch. 30 2nd 7.79
Cars.com Overachiever needs help buying a car. 60 2nd 7.78
Pedigree Dog is better pet than an ostrich or rhino. 30 2nd 7.71
Pepsi Mix of Forever Young with Bob Dylan and Will.i.am. 60 1st 7.65
Castrol Grease monkeys and Castrol Edge keep car running. 30 2nd 7.56
Bud Light No Bud Light at meetings to cut budget. 30 1st 7.49