| 24 Sep 2021
Radio City's National Head of Marketing Rana Barua - One of our largest initiatives has been changing our music strategy

Radio City's National Head of Marketing, Rana Barua leads the national marketing team, based out of Mumbai. Barua looks after all national marketing initiatives. The focus of his assignment is to further build on the innovative never-done-before aspects of marketing which will further build the brand, Radio City.

In conversation with's Aparna Joshi, Barua detailed the company's changing strategies and outlined some of its plans.


Have the first RAM findings corroborated your in house research and differential programming you have been following thus far?

We have always been one of the advocates of RAM and have been asking for one uniform currency in the country. RAM is a clear indicator and gives a better view of the market - in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. It has reinforced our belief in the differential programming for the SEC AB, which has really worked for us. I guess we will be working harder on that now.

Were the findings in Bangalore a bit disappointing, considering that Radio City was the first city that you launched in?

Yes. Because we do have an internal track system too which didn't get reflected in the RAM findings. Yes, it did reflect that competition is hotting up, but there is a certain disparity between our findings and the RAM ones, which we have communicated to them. Internal research may not give you exact figures, but it gives overall brand health. While this tallied in Delhi and Mumbai, it didn't in Bangalore. So, either we have to take cognisance of the fact or sharpen our strategies.

How has the journey been from Radio City 'City Mein Kho Jao' till 'Whatte Fun'?

City mein kho jao was a different proposition. It underlined the music one could lose onself in, and also offered the local connect to the city, but there was no clear cut strong differentiator that was coming out with the tag line. The medium is very vibrant and energetic, and the tagline wasn't taking the high end platform of pumping in energy. Besides, it was okay till there were just two or three stations, but as competition grew, naturally one had to re-look at the positioning because now it had to be a long term one. Owning a 'fun' platform seemed like a good idea, because no one had gone for it till then. A lot of research went in before we firmed up the platform along with our research partner Synovate, our media agency Univeral Lodestar to get a complete psychographic understanding of the SEC AB. What came out of the research were their music habits, what this TG looks for in an entertainment medium like TV and radio.

Hence, we also decided to take the 'fun' way and not become a 'de stresser' because it's too early days for radio to take on that role.

Is the 'Whatte Fun' platform working?

It's a very open platform; it doesn't limit you like a lot of other positioning does. Whatte Fun can take you into any route you want to take - humour, jokes, satire, inane fun - it doesn't limit you to a certain way of thinking. A lot of brands can be very limiting due to their tag lines. We didn't want that.

We could have taken the serious route and been a 'de stresser' for the SEC AB. But radio is not ready for that. It would have been too preachy. The other alternative was to take a higher ground, but that's we see as stage two, sometime in the future, when we are properly involved with our TG.

Have other stations hijacked the humour genre, which was something Radio City pioneered?

Properties like Babbar Sher fitted in well because they were part of the core proposition. Our music video in fact captures the entire philosophy of the station.

Every other station is bound to try it, but they need a core proposition to go along with it. They are all trying humour but are tying it with their own brand proposition. Since we target the 25 to 44 year olds, we obviously cannot be crass or too irreverant or we will be switched off.

Is it possible to have a uniform programming strategy across stations, be they in metros or small towns?

Yes, it is possible and we have done that. In some markets, you need to change the language, you talk more about the city. But when you say that fun is the underlying theme, you deliver it in that format. We try to maintain as much uniformity as possible in our shows - so a 'Breakfast Show' is understood as such across cities. A show like Joyride might have to renamed in certain towns though the essence remains the same.

How important is on ground activation for you?

Very important. In smaller towns naturally, on ground activation is huge, easier to execute, manageable and at the same time, has a better impact, because smaller markets usually don't see so much of activity. Whereas in a metro, I need a strong marketing idea to do it on the ground, wherein I can give away a lot of prizes etc.

Musical-E-Azam for example was a completely on ground affair because it was something that worked hand in glove with the on air idea.

Why wasn't Musical-E-Azam repeated when it was such a success last year?

That's because of a change in format, one of the largest initiatives we have undertaken. We have changed our music strategy. Firstly, we did our segmentation of audience. We were going to be a 20 market station, the top 12 or so which were going to be top advertising revenue earners. We decided to concentrate on the SEC AB which meant we were doing away with numbers. It is impossible for a radio station, though it is an entertainment medium, to straddle an audience that is 12 plus. No brand can cut across age groups. When we decided on our TG, we decided to do away with a lot of riff raff, as well as some of the music we play. What we did was focus segmentation, and when you do that, it takes a while for the advertisers to realise. Now, with shows like City City Bang Bang, we have on board advertisers who only want to be on that specific show. And we have got some top names like Gillette, Nokia, Diageo and TV channels.

The third thing we did was to change the music strategy for this purpose, which we call the slow burn process, since it will take some time to reach its effect. We are now a 'Hot AC' station. The others cannot do this because they are going for the numbers among the 12 plus and they need to play hits.

It's only us who have identified our audience and can play music that is Hot 'Adult Contemporary' - music that is relaxing and soothing. It's not music that puts you to sleep, but music that puts you in a good mood. It does mean that you give up on a lot of hits and 'thumping music', but the music follows a steady curve of melody based music, not necessarily chartbusters all the time.

Hot AC music can only appeal to a person who has better taste, enjoys listening to music and is a bit more grown up than the rest. It means that we do away with the kids and the teens, which anyway are not our TG.

But it's a slow burn process, which will take a few months to percolate to our TG.

As a trade initiative, how did the Corporate Music Quiz work for you?

It worked very well as a trade initiative, but more than that, it overturned the conventional idea that a Hindi music quiz won't work. The response we received was overwhelming, and the property can only grow from the next year on.

How has the Cash Ya Chhutti campaign worked?

Very well. It was true to its proposition of fun, and the idea that you were made to choose between cash and a vacation was interesting. We also had a great deal - four or five good destinations, good packages with all expenses paid. In Delhi, particularly, we got an extremely good response.

As a national player, what are the advantages you have over regional players who may know the local markets better?

As a national player, we understand the market, you follow the best practices and you get to hire the best talent, so there's no compromise. Our RJs are put properly through a training grind before they appear on air, and we play the best music. There's a thorough understanding of each market before we affect our entry.

What are the new marketing initiatives for Radio City in the coming quarter?

We are concentrating on our smaller markets a bit more. We are also looking at RAM very closely and how it impacts those three markets for us, so some action can be expected in these three markets in the next three months. It's not a knee jerk reaction but a long term strategy since these three are lead advertiser markets.

We are also hoping to launch a pan India talent show by December or January.

But basically, we are consolidating the smaller markets, looking to launch Pune and Ahmednagar, and a clear focus on the three RAM markets.

Why isn't your website promoted as much as it should be on air?

The point is that it is difficult enough having people remember your station and frequency. We don't want to saddle people with too much information. When there are contests, we do promote the website. But we don't want too many layers of communication going out. I guess we will push it a bit more next year.