| 04 Dec 2021
Prashant Panday: "2012 û a tough year where radio proved its mettle"

Entertainment Network (India) Ltd (ENIL) executive director and CEO Prashant Panday:

By all standards, the year 2012 was a tough year for the media business. As per industry veterans and published results, the print business has struggled a lot, growing at less than 5 per cent during the year; the outdoor business may have stayed flat or de-grown a bit; and the TV industry may also have grown only 5-10 per cent. In contrast, the radio industry has grown by nearly 10-12 per cent thus out-performing other media segments except the internet. Like they say…when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

There is a reason why radio has done so well in 2012. The humble medium maintains a low profile, but carries the potential to deliver a mean punch. In booming times, lazy clients are happy to continue with their age-old TV and print plans. But in times of slow-down, when everything is re-evaluated, the true power of radio wins the game for it. Today, almost all national clients, and an increasing number of retail clients, are using radio in a big way.

Radio is also dipping into its kitty of tricks and bringing up startling goodies for the clients to exploit. The unique ability of radio – to “make a campaign come alive”, by giving the brand a creative playground, by allowing it to build magic by interacting with its consumers, by fusing it with the radio channel’s programming making the message more credible, and by effecting a transfer of the energy and sex appeal of its RJs to the brands – is what is driving the growth of this medium. Today, buying plain vanilla FCT spots is passé; demanding creative solutions from radio broadcasters is the new game.

This is where Radio Mirchi has excelled in 2012. We founded our Creative Services Team (CST) nearly five years back and put it under our senior-most and most creative Vice President of programming, Riya Mukherjee. We looked at brands as stars and decided that each of them needed personalized treatment. We refused to accept standardized briefs from media agencies; and demanded to be part of the creative meetings. We came into the campaign early; much before the plans were drawn up.

We also put together a bouquet of products. No more did we offer just FCT or the by-now-very-common Activation. We offered a plethora of new solutions including mobile activations, internet integrations, international marketing, multi-media solutions, film-star-integrations….even flash mobs if required! We refused to lower rates, but we still gave our clients more value for money by investing in their promotion plans. This way, we separated ourselves from the pack by becoming known as an ideation workshop rather than the number 1 radio broadcaster. We stood out for our palette of sales solutions. We pitched radio high where it deserves to be. Not surprising then that our clients rewarded us with a higher share of their wallets; Mirchi’s revenue market share increased by 1-2 per cent during the year and stands at nearly 35 per cent of the private market today.

Here’s the beauty about being innovative. Creative sales solutions designed for clients also improve listener perceptions about the brand! During the year, Mirchi won several awards including “the most Popular Radio Channel of the Year at Global Awards for Brand Excellence”, an award for Merit at Designomics Awards for Digital Innovation Using Technology for our on-air contest called Mirchi Music Housie, and several awards for “best RJ” and the like at other awards functions. Even our annual report titled Reimagining Radio – which contained a radio set stitched into its cover! – won a Gold at Midas Awards, for the World’s Best Financial Advertising. Clearly, the industry noticed Mirchi’s good work!

2012 could have been better, had the much-delayed FM Phase III taken off. For regulatory reasons, the auctions have been repeatedly postponed and are now likely to happen sometime around March 2013. The policy announced by the Government in July 2011 needs to be tweaked, keeping the recent failure of the 2G auctions. Technological advancement in radio receivers (mostly mobile phones) now makes a 400 Khz separation between adjoining radio stations possible and TRAI has already made this recommendation. If the Government accepts this, out metros could soon boast of 18-20 private FM stations, comparable with what you get in Singapore and Colombo. Clearly, the best for radio is still to come. As radio grows, the share of radio is expected to climb from 4.5 per cent today to nearly 7-8 per cent of all advertising in the next 5 years. In anticipation, the CII-E&Y report already predicts radio being the fastest growing traditional medium in the next five years.

All in all, a satisfactory year for radio. 2013 promises to be better, with the gains of last year likely to be consolidated. With an economic recovery on the horizon, with client’s likely to open their purse strings a lot more, and with FM Phase III likely to kick off soon, radio will continue to remain what I have always called it – the most sexy medium – in the next few years!