Major Marketers Tell Radio What They Need

They Want Help Building on Broader Campaigns, Not More Fragmentation

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What are top radio advertisers seeking from their media partners? Better help building on broader campaigns and more ethnic insights, for starters. Marketing chiefs from Sears Holding Corp. and McDonald's appeared at the Radio Advertising Bureau and National Association of Broadcasters' Radio Show in Chicago this week to share insights into how radio can play a bigger role in their marketing mix.

Eddie Combs, VP-chief marketing officer of home appliances at Sears, said during a keynote Wednesday that he uses radio to help augment his other marketing initiatives.

"I need help," he told the crowd. "When you pitch ideas to me, say, 'I've got a creative group, they have a great idea' if you can help me play off something I'm currently doing in-market and extend that , as opposed to helping me fragment."

Sears is currently using radio stations to help enhance a series of "Wake-Up Call"-themed spots currently airing on TV from agency McGarryBowen. Through a program that started in June, Sears tapped local DJs to give selected listeners an early-morning "wake-up call" and award them with a Sears prize or gift certificate. "We wanted to extend the campaign in a fun way using our radio partners," Mr. Combs told Ad Age .

Sears spent $20.8 million on radio during the first half of 2011, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau and Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co. But its radio budget continues to face pressure.

"I would do more radio, but the challenge is the rising costs of TV are cannibalizing the costs of our other channels," Mr. Combs said. "Radio is a good, hard-working vehicle that 's great when you have something to say."

McDonald's Chief Marketing Officer Neil Golden spoke with radio host Tom Joyner this morning about the importance of ethnic consumers to his marketing strategy and overall business, estimating that that African-American, Hispanic, Asian and other ethnic communities account for 40% to 42% of McDonald's consumer visits. The company has increased its efforts to target its ads to multiple audiences at once, experimenting with different languages and voiceovers in the mass and niche media.

"We made a commitment to our franchisees with all our general-market creative that a portion of that would start with Hispanic, African-American or Asian segments, because of the percentage of business we're receiving from those consumers," he said.

McDonald's spent $90 million on spot radio alone in the second-quarter, following only Comcast Cable in spot radio spending, but isn't inherently wedded to the medium.

"We're pretty agnostic in the grand scheme of things. We go where our consumers are most receptive to engaging with the brand," Mr. Golden said. "If that 's radio, if that 's print, if that 's television, if that 's digital, we'll go there. We're confident that the way we're approaching media is asking first and foremost which medium is reaching our consumer the most."

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