Bud Light Presents: Dead Air

Maybe It's the Slap in the Face Radio Needs -- and an Opportunity for Your Clients

By Published on .

Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
Anheuser-Busch's decision to scale back on radio is some pretty substantial news to the industry. The first reaction that most people will have is that of doom and gloom. In some ways, that's accurate. In other ways, it could be considered an opportunity. I know that people reading this may have now just rolled their eyes and assumed I am crazy. But, as is my nature, I tend to look on the brighter side of things, even in the face of massive adversity.

Yes, this is a big chunk of cash, but let's consider some of the residual issues in play here:
  1. A-B and DDB, Chicago, upped the radio creative ante. This is indisputable. Some will say that the Bud Light campaign is the best in the history of the medium. That's not an irrational observation and is one I agree with. Because of this, the opportunity for other advertisers is huge. By listening to this game-changing work, there is something of a blueprint not to necessarily emulate, but rather to be inspired by. A-B and DDB proved that radio truly can be a strong branding medium.

  2. This category just got lighter. As referenced in the article, Miller, Coors and others have a chance to grab some of the share on the air. This new real estate opens new opportunities for the others, not just in terms of a buy but also creatively as well.

  3. There could be new category opportunities. One can't put all of the proverbial eggs in one basket. Some existing category lift, diversification and new blood may turn out to be a good thing.

  4. This could refocus the industry. Nothing says "fight or flight" like this. I've said publicly that radio, because of technology, is in the best position in its history. That said, it's up to radio to determine its own course. Some say the "issues" facing the industry have, by and large, been self-inflicted. If that's the case, they also can be healed with more focus, more innovation and, yes, a deeper commitment to, not just great creative, but the best possible opportunities for advertisers whether they use radio exclusively or as part of their mix.

  5. This is a $20 billion industry and national advertisers account for $4 billion of it. Yes, the A-B move is big, but it is not the death of radio. It's more important to note that we're losing an iconic radio brand campaign. Losing any advertiser hurts, but losing something that is just so damn good hurts, too.

  6. It could come back anyway. Just because it's gone doesn't mean it won't come back. A-B is facing some daunting issues right now courtesy of our "friends" in Belgium. I think it's wise to cut it a little slack, realize that it has bigger business issues on its hands and determine how radio can help it get back in the game when the time is right.
Yes, this stings. Yes, this affects a lot of people and their livelihoods and I don't want to come across as seemingly cavalier in my attitude. I will also assume that my comments here will be assailed mightily by plenty of people. However, this may be the push we need to get everyone on the same page and off of their agendas for the greater good of a medium many people care deeply for.

We're ready for the fight and look forward to seeing who is in it with us.
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