Tony Thomas talks Branding with Peter Saxon | radioinfo

Tony Thomas talks Branding with Peter Saxon

Sunday 25 May, 2014

Way back in ancient times at the dawn of the 21st century Radio was like an amoeba a simple business. A station would send content up through a transmitter which anyone within range could access through a radio. And they sold ads in between the content. Simples.

Mention the word Radio and everyone, from everyday consumers to major advertisers, knew exactly what you meant. It had a single, unique purpose. No one had to explain to you what it did. In terms of brand recognition, Radio was up there with television and newspapers. More ubiquitous than Coca Cola or QANTAS.

My how times have changed! Increasingly, the term Radio is being shared by internet streaming and other services. In the U.S., Nielsen no longer delivers Radio ratings. They now call it Audio ratings instead.

With simulcasts, podcasts, video streaming and partnering with other media plus a multitude of platforms beyond AM and FM, branding Radio is not so simple anymore – which goes a long way toward explaining why it took Nova Entertainment the better part of 18 months change its name from dmg after the Daily Mail Group had sold the business to Lachlan Murdoch’s Illyria organisation.

Significantly, the words radio or broadcast which traditionally form part of most corporate monikers in this industry, have been omitted. To find out the thinking behind the brands, both corporate and consumer, radioinfo’s Peter Saxon spoke to Nova Entertainment’s Group Marketing Director, Tony Thomas.

I don’t think the essence of our business has changed significantly. We’ve always been an ideas based business.

radioinfo: Why did it take so long to come up with a new name?

Thomas: We actually didn’t want to change our name and put a new position out into market until we had all our ducks in a row around the type of business we aspired to be. The change from dmg Radio Australia to Nova Entertainment was really just the last stage of a fairly long process of us evolving the business from what it was, which was a  pure play broadcast radio business into a broader entertainment business, that not only did radio, but also a lot of content plays that sat around radio.

radioinfo: What are the challenges associated with rebranding something that’s been pretty much the same for 100 years?

Thomas: I don’t think the essence of our business has changed significantly. We’ve always been an ideas based business that has a hell of a lot of creativity and agility and is quite fast moving.

I think the biggest challenge is changing the perception in our customers’ minds and in trade and agency land that we’re not just a radio business. In fact we are a much broader business than radio. It’s about getting out into market and convincing the trade, the people who buy advertising off us that they can do a lot more with us than they ever did before.

The challenges are usually around how to explain how all the businesses work together and how we can now come together and provide a solution to a client that’s looking for a lot more than just radio.

radioinfo: Is that the death knell for traditional advertising?

Thomas: There’s still a lot of advertisers out there that just want radio and are only interested in a 15 or a 30 second spot that runs in Breakfast.

But if you look at the way the media agencies work and operate now, you’ll see that they’ve got a complex world in which they’re planning client campaigns across multiple and varied channels.

If Nova Entertainment can be a larger solution within that complex world, where they can deal with us and we can provide a solution across all our assets, then that’s only to the advantage of our clients.

radioinfo: Are you charging enough for that? I mean you can play 24 x 30 second ads each hour in breakfast – more in other shifts. But you can only run a few integrated multi-platform promotions across a station at any given time…

Thomas: It all comes down to our ability to convince a client around the value of a strong multi-platform idea that they’re prepared to pay for. So, you’re right, there are challenges associated with it. There’s production there’s the complexity of implementation across multiple platforms, there’s the talent involvement. There’s all those sort of things. There is obviously the availability of space and live reads and all the kind of clutter that sits within radio.

All those are complex challenges, but our job is to convince the client that we have a significantly valuable idea that can come to life on multiple channels that can follow a consumer journey across our assets and convince them that that’s valuable and its something that they should pay for.

We can make good money out of ideas that are perceived as high value.

radioinfo: There was a time when radio “threw in” the creative and production as part of an ad campaign. Are those days over?

Thomas: I think clients are more and more valuing strong multi-platform ideas and we’re getting much better at selling them. Great ideas cost money. And there’s going to be production involved. We’re there to make sure that we’re making margins off all of that.

We have our Create teams in Sydney  and Melbourne. They’re effectively our internal creative agencies. Kate Day runs it in Melbourne and Andy Milne runs it up here in Sydney. They’re our idea development and implementation teams.

We work with other media too. It’s not just our own media. It might be with the Ten Network. It might be with Foxtel or News Ltd or social partners. and we come together with all those partners . The Create team bring all the partners together at the table and deliver those ideas.

We can make good money out of ideas that are perceived as high value.

radioinfo: The meaning of the word ‘Radio’ is changing. Can you see a time when it will no longer exist as a way of defining our industry?

Thomas: That’s a good question. I think it’s semantics more than anything. I think we still have a significant thriving business that’s called Radio and audiences access radio in different ways but the ‘badge,’ Radio, still stands for music, personality driven content and integration based promotion that’s packaged up and delivered in an audio way.

Audiences are thriving. They may be accessing it in a different way. They might be streaming it through our apps or streaming it online. They might be streaming through a slightly different definition of radio which might be music only. And the likes of Pandora like to call themselves a ‘Radio Player,’ which, you know, is debatable.

But Radio is still Radio and audiences are still accessing it. All we’ve done is looked at different ways to extend the footprint of our radio audiences into other territory and I think that’s the essence of Nova Entertainment.

In Part Two of our chat with Tony Thomas, coming soon, we look the marketing and branding of Nova and smoothfm. And how Michael Buble intervened in the production of the launch TVC.


Peter Saxon

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