Thursday, September 14, 2006

"I never heard of a focus group that said they liked negative advertising but they sure do remember it." James Carville

Elections this week reminded me. What came to mind were things Joe Klein writes about in his book Politics Lost. Here's some of what Joe has to say...

"I am hopeful that we are coming to the end of the era that Ailes began. The ceremonies of consultancy have become threadbare and transparent; they may still work, but only in the absence of a real alternative.

And what might that alternative be?

A politician who refuses to be a 'performer,' at least in the current sense. Who doesn't orate. Who never holds a press conference in front of an aircraft carrier or in a flag factory. Who doesn't assume the public is stupid or uncaring. Who believes in at least one idea, or program, that has less than 40 percent support in the polls. Who can tell a joke - at his or her own expense, if possible. Who gets angry, within reason; gets wimpy, within reason...but only if those emotions are rare and real. Who is capable of a spontaneous, untrammeled belly laugh. Who indulges a guilty pleasure or two, especially ones that may not 'test' well. Who isn't averse to kicking his or her opponent in the shins, but does it gently and cleverly. Who radiates good sense, common decency, and calm. Who is not afraid to deliver bad news. Who is not afraid to admit a mistake. Who abides by the sign that graced Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Oval Office: 'Let Unconquerable Gladness Dwell.'"

Bravo Joe. Just where are those politicans you speak of?

Ad Age says this year's political ad spend may reach 1.6 billion, most all of that goes into broadcast TV. More on spending from Ad Age here. For those CFOs keeping score, that's 1.6 large that will not be on the table next year. 2007 is shaping up to be a very difficult year.

Stunt this. Sweeps are upon us and so are the stunts. It took a conversation with the scary smart Brian Kelly to put this into perspective for me. Why would you stage an elaborate stunt, capture the attention of listeners (or viewers) and let them down with a weak payoff or no payoff at all? Getting a buzz going about "change" is cool provided you actually change something.

Does new always have to be old? The Jacks, Bobs, Charlies (and now Movin) all seem to hold the potential of being well done jockless reboots of oldies. Which begs the question. Do they have to debar the new? the current? Without playing currents it's not new simply another flavor of old. It is more about making the old new again, especially when the certain old has been MIA. Formats begin when the elements are unique and different. Once the same elements are used by others the competition becomes how those elements are played. Creating and sustaining contrast becomes the game. When yours is the only country station you've organically created contrast. The minute another country station comes on it's no longer about the music but about how the music and everything else is played. When a format or demo competitor arrives the sound of your station changes because of what your new competitor does or does not do. The game is played on the listener side of the radio, in the listener mind. Contrast is not static, it is a dynamic at work in your market. Listen for what's not there, that's the key that cracks the code. The example we use in our marketing workshops is Coke v Pepsi. The key point about people drinking Coke is not that they are drinking Coke but rather what they are not drinking, they are not drinking Pepsi. Come on, it's fashion week. Where's the new fall fashion in media? Which reminds me of those mad cool promos that Tim Fox used to run promoting his "new fall season." Everything old is new again. However, sometimes, the best new What's next? The bespoked format, back to the future.

Harvey Wells GM of the three station Nine FM operation in suburban Chicago is going out of his way to make a point. As I understand it, Harvey says he has cut his spot load to six minutes an hour (from eight) and his new policy provides stop sets will not exceed one minute. Ok so far. The man is having a difficult year and he turns low inventory demand into a positive for his buyers. Ye old "environment" pitch. Got it. Then he knocks over his water dish. "Not sure a station has played so few commercials per hour since the birth of FM" he tells IR. Object lesson - Don't gild the lily.

Congrats to Chuck Schaden the new host of "When Radio Was" the radio show in national syndi flag-shipped out of Drew Hayes' WBBM NewsRadio, Chicago. Cheers too to uber-mensch Brad Saul prexy of Matrix Media, his guys are doing the national distribution.

I heart Google, again and again: We are using Google coupons and Judy's Book coupons for the retail store while at the same time doing another (our last I hope) mailing of dead tree stuff. Each represents the same offer. In the early going Google leads. Very cool products - congrats to the Google and Judy's Book coupon teams. The Google audio-ad solutions crew continues to recruit and they're looking for exactly the right people. You may find their open job postings here

Tony Malara remembered. A tribute has been scheduled for Sept 26th in the city at 21. More info here. There will never again be the likes of Tony, truly a bigger-than-life original, a character; he did work that mattered and made a difference in every situation where he was involved.

Allen Kepler announces BA's intent to launch a 24-hour Smooth Jazz network. Perfect talent for Allen's initiative - Myke Julius, the legendary urban poet just now late of CC Chicago.