How Verizon, Campbell Soup, Scotts Find Value on Air

Marketers to Radio Execs: Give Us Research, Flexibility

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NEW YORK ( -- Radio companies, like all media companies, are under more pressure than ever to prove their medium's value to marketers. But when three brands opened up their strategies to radio executives at the Advertising Research Foundation's Audio Council in New York, the industry got an insightful look as to what else marketers are looking for from radio.

Scotts Miracle-Gro has been taking a weather-based approach to its media plan with Clear Channel, and the strategy has paid off.
Scotts Miracle-Gro has been taking a weather-based approach to its media plan with Clear Channel, and the strategy has paid off.
For starters, marketers want breakthrough research. "Radio promises us effectiveness, but can you prove it?" asked Diane Whitehead, director-national retail advertising for Verizon Wireless, the top spender on national radio in 2008 and the second-largest spender in local radio. "Yeah, radio gets X million people to listen, but what are they doing with it? How are they engaging with it?"

For Scotts Miracle-Gro, one breakthrough was dictated by the weather. Bill Bayer, senior partner for Miracle-Gro's media agency Mediaedge:cia, said the brand has been taking a meteorological approach to its media plan with Clear Channel, booking local radio buys based on the market's 10-day forecast, and sometimes rescheduling air dates in windows as short as 48 hours if inclement weather is on the horizon. The strategy has paid off so well for both parties that Miracle-Gro reallocated an incremental $1.5 million of its marketing dollars into radio this year.

Campbell's Chunky Soup, a smaller but identifiable brand that spends an average of only $1 million of its $30 million media budget on radio, relies on the medium to get more mileage out of its "working dollars." Its return on investment in the medium has tripled in the past five years, said Douglas Brand, Chunky Soup's senior brand manager. Because 70% of the soup's purchasers are women, Campbell produced spots that position it as a manly brand women want to buy for their husbands. "We're advertising to the 'gatekeeper' as well as making her husband aware of Chunky Soup as something they'd want to consume," he said.

Verizon's Ms. Whitehead is also a stickler for category exclusivity, telling the council it expects certain provisions to be met for the 100-plus DJ endorsements it pays for in various markets. "It's not acceptable to have DJ A endorsing us and DJ B endorsing a competitor in the same daypart," she said. "We'd love to partner with you on DJ-endorsement effectiveness."

She is also conscientious of commercial-pod length, noting that a recent five-minute commercial break she heard in New Jersey featured two ads from Home Depot and one from Lowe's, among seven others. "That's wacked, folks," she said, candidly. "If you have data that says listeners love listening to these pods, bring it on, because we'd love to be in those pods. We need to figure out how to not be in a 10-commercial pod."

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