Real Men (and Women) of Radio Look for Ideas

At Second Annual New York Radio Forum

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NEW YORK ( -- Anheuser-Busch has been one of radio's most notable advertisers in recent years -- not to mention deep-pocketed, with $900 million in ad spending since 1997. But even Tony Ponturo, A-B's VP-global media and sports marketing, and the award-winning creative team at DDB Worldwide couldn't help but poke a little fun at the medium with a special "Real Men of Genius" ad created just for today's second annual New York Radio Forum in Times Square.
Tony Ponturo, VP of Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser Busch and President & CEO, Busch Media Group, Inc. and Jeff Haley, President & CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau
Tony Ponturo, VP of Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser Busch and President & CEO, Busch Media Group, Inc. and Jeff Haley, President & CEO, Radio Advertising Bureau

"Here's to you, Mr. Low Budget Bad Product Radio Buyer Guy," Pete Stacker was heard bellowing in his familiar sardonic tone as David Bickler, a former singer for '80s band Survivor, backed him up. "If it weren't for you we'd be selling insurance."

Relationships could improve
While radio salesmen held their own this year -- radio ad revenue was up 1% from 2005 -- there was still some truth in Mr. Ponturo's mock ad that was echoed by panelists and executives attending the forum. Marketer-agency relationships, for example, could use some improvement.

"We see clients coming to us and saying, 'I want an idea tomorrow,'" Natalie Swed Stone, OMD's director-national radio investment. "It's up to everybody to bring their assets together. You need to be willing to partner with whomever and ask yourself, 'How do I resolve these issues and still serve the client?'"

Richard Feinblatt, VP-radio at Greater Media in Philadelphia, said he would like to have seen more agency representation at the New York forum and other events. "We need more of those folks coming to these things. We need more Kim Vaseys," he said, referencing Mediaedge:cia's senior VP-director of radio, who led the panel on the Radio Ad Effectiveness Lab with Jim Peacock, president of Peacock Research.

Least-annoying ads
The RAEL's 2006 radio-ad receptivity study found radio ads ranked as, well, least annoying, compared to other media. That study used the top three negative attributes associated with ads to rank media. Just 37% of respondents find radio ads get in the way of their enjoyment, compared to 50% annoyed by TV ads and 57% disliking online ads. Such statistics bolstered a comment made later by David Goodman, president-marketing at CBS Radio. "This is the single best timeframe in the history of radio for advertisers to be working with radio," he said. "Local is this year's black -- everyone's all over it from an ad perspective."

Mr. Goodman's "What's the Big Idea?" panel was full of case studies highlighting radio's sustained effectiveness at driving retail incentives. Ms. Swed Stone said she recently worked with executives at Pine-Sol to identify different types of media to target African-Americans and found that radio was the one with the best ideas. "It has a leg up in terms of how it's been used to do [these spots]," she said. "The challenge is getting the right person to do it."

At CBS, Mr. Goodman pitched Jack Sussman, senior VP-specials for the network, to cross-promote its radio and TV brands with red-carpet coverage of this year's Grammys on its websites. "It's not a revolutionary idea, but it blurred the lines of what radio can do and deliver," he said.

Advances in measurement
And with a move toward more adaptable forms of measurement for radio via Arbitron's studies in Philadelphia and Houston, stations can tell when they're best reaching their listeners faster than ever before. Mr. Feinblatt learned this last fall when he got a call from Arbitron in Philadelphia.

"They asked how my ratings were on Tuesday at 10 a.m. because my ads went through the roof," he said. "And it was because we were giving away Rolling Stones tickets. Now I know what works."
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