| 14 Apr 2024
RJs - chance ambassadors for radio?

MUMBAI: Mention the word Jeeturaaj to a Mumbaikar and you are likely to get the response, Mirchi?...

So inextricably are some jockeys linked to the brands they serve and so often do they develop a larger than life persona,  that the differentiating line often begins to blur. Not surprisingly, that's when the station makes judicious use of the RJ as brand to push a product or promote a service.

But have jocks become ambassadors for the stations? Or is the time slot and station identity above and beyond the voice that entertains, hour after hour? Says Red FM senior VP (Programming & Projects) Nisha Narayanan, "An RJ's popularity is directly proportional with the success of the show and the station. Having said that, there are other aspects of programming like show concept, format and interactivity that also play a part. To sum up, a show's popularity depends on the right mix of attitude, relevance of content and RJ personality, all of which contribute towards listenership and revenues of the show or station."

Agreed, it's a blend made of unquantifiable individual factors, but advertising on radio now appears to be weaving the RJ into its offering. Radio spots include value-added propositions such as content integration, brands woven in the RJ's script and ground activations involving the RJ. No wonder, advertisers like to go for associations with names like Malishka or  a Jeeturaaj who have earned celebrity status.

Big FM's Chennai RJ Dheena has also seen a surge in popularity with a loyal listenership base. The station's southern regional head Suresh Iyer says, RJs bring in more listeners which in turn create more revenue opportunities. Having said that, Dheena has increased the brand saliency of Big FM at the station and has added a wow factor to the brand, especially with campaigns like Guinness World Record, RJ Marathon etc. This has given us a great leading edge both among the advertisers and listeners....

There are numerous examples on how radio stations have tried to ride on their RJ's popularity across various platforms. Narayanan, whose station was one of the first few to resort to outdoor publicity for its jocks says, "We make sure we choose the right RJs who fit the bill in terms of the right attitude and personality and encourage them to imbibe Red FM's brand attitude while at the same time not lose their own personal identity and personality. Popular RJs and time bands command a huge fan following and larger listenership numbers and while this sells for a premium, advertisers are paying for the whole package of the station, the brand and its ambassadors."

Radio Mirchi CEO Prashant Panday whose star jock Jeeturaaj commands an awesome following, begs to differ and says that it is the overall brand that matters at the end. "We do not allow direct commercialization of any on-air talent. We do a lot of brand integration, but it is never done around a specific jock," adds Panday.

Delhi's Hit FM station head Shyam Kumar also supports the view, "I don't think RJs directly help in bringing in more revenue, the station has its own appeal which attracts both the advertisers and the listeners. We do not endorse any kind of brand. It is essential for an RJ to keep the curiosity value intact which will happen only when they are heard more than they are seen. Hence we do not believe in splashing our RJs all over."  

Advertiser affinity

Red FM undertook a campaign in 2009 called Maliska Ko Bataun Kya? in association with telecom operator Idea to celebrate the fourth anniversary of its morning No.1 show. "The concept is said to have taken shape after building Red FM as a �station for expression' for the masses over the course of four years," says Narayanan. "Malishka's listeners cut across demographic segments and this was a mass campaign aimed at every Mumbaikar who wants to be heard."

Says Idea marketing communication head Amar Saraswat, "The campaign was a part of the cross promotion which was jointly undertaken by both the teams. We were quite happy with the result that the campaign produced. There was a good response from the listeners." About Malishka, he says, "RJ Malishka was the obvious choice both from our side as well from Red FM, owing to her popularity and reach across the city."    

Hit FM in Delhi launched a campaign for luxury car brand Mercedes. The advertisement features the world's known music celebrities and gives trivia about the celebrities and their achievements along with a subtle mention of the specific Mercedes Benz model they drive. "It was our in built campaign wherein we thought that Mercedes Benz branding suits our station. We made a campaign and we approached the Mercedes team. The luxury brand went on to choose RJ Sarthak's morning slot to advertise since they thought that his style captures the essence of their brand," says Kumar 

Big FM is also in favour of off air promotions of RJs, saying it adds to the overall branding and in reaching out to the potential advertisers. The breakfast show is the prime time in radio where most listeners tune in, which in turn attracts a lot of advertisers. The Breakfast show RJ necessarily needs to have tons of oomph, energy, effervescence and undoubtedly a great crowd pulling ability. With Dheena's enormous fan following and the enthusiasm with listeners shows in his show he works excellently for the breakfast show. All major radio campaigns are done in the breakfast show to reach optimal listenership....

Brand growth

While a few stations are upfront about promoting their RJs, others prefer the old tradition of keeping the mystery element alive. Says Narayanan, "Red FM was one of the first stations which started promoting RJs as sub brands, as we have always believed in investing in our people. RJs are the face of the station. An RJ's personality or attitude on-air reflects the brand's personality. We feel that the investment in people has paid off for the brand with an increase in the number of loyal listeners."

With little or no perceivable difference between the songs of one station and the next, factors like station attitude, RJ personality and content can be the only differentiators. Adds Iyer, RJ is the face of the station and is selected based on the positioning and tonality of the station, which is decided based on the TG. All of these come together to lead to growth for the station. A good jock definitely leads to more listeners coming in and an increase in stickiness....

Kumar's station prefers the voice of the jockey to work as the catalyst rather than over the top promotions, "There may be a brand growth from such promotions but it will be for the short term. In the long run, the station needs to keep the core proposition of the station alive which would ultimately attract the advertisers....

As Kumar puts it succinctly, It is the overall brand that needs to be developed for long term benefits."

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