Commercial SABC station 5FM has pulled off a move almost no other radio station would have even attempted by dedicating 12 hours of its day air time to naming the radio station ‘Vicki’s 5FM’ in honour of a winner of a competition.
The campaign started week or so before when 5FM ran a ‘hit general’ competition calling on anyone who loves radio and understands 5FM’s music format to enter. The good part about the latter is that a successful radio campaign needs to answer the question: “whats in this for me?” The e answer in this case was that as a participant, you get to speak regularly live on air and may get the station named after you. Now, who wouldn’t want that?
Any good radio marketing ploy manages to tap into the emotions of listeners and gets them excited to enter the competition. In this case, listeners didn’t get it easy. They also needed to take into account whether it was ultimately worth it. Entrants in this case had to go through a 5FM ‘boot camp’ where they were taken through multiple challenges, such as fundraising, in order to win.
Why do radio stations create stunts? If they win an MTN radio award for radio stunt that would be great but the real reward is whether they grow their brand or listenership and receive the desired publicity. Sometimes the aim is to create a bridge before a format change happens at the station, or to experiment with a new sound.
Friday 1 November was the day when Vicki’s 5FM finally took to the air and the winner – Vicki Mac Callum, a 23 year old office administrator from Cape Town – was given the chance to run show, bark out orders, and control the station’s line up from 6am to 6pm – an amazing privilege indeed considering the winner wants to study towards a radio qualification.
DJ Fresh started things in the morning followed by Damon Kalvari then Sureshnie, who was then followed by Rob Forbes. Rob Vember came through followed by Thomas. The beautiful thing was no one knew what would happen next but listeners knew it was going to be a surprise so they listened longer , boosting the station’s listenership.
The majority of the presenters were from the weekend, which is no coincidence they clearly and cleverly tried to market their weekend presenters to listeners loyal to the weekday programmes.
I was impressed the effort they put in to this stunt including the production of quality jingles and stings just for the day. They also kept to the sound effects that they generally use for station IDs. The production of jingles like that takes time and money. That kind of care and attention to detail says one thing to the listener: only 5FM can and is truly a radio trend setter, which appeals to the young target market of the station.
When considering or conceptualising a stunt like this, it’s important to take some time to generate word of mouth action and of course, to try and trend on social networks. Indeed, #vickifm did trend on Twitter and most people listened to see what it was all about, which means the station may have attracted new listeners.
A lot of radio stunts are recycled ideas of stunts but not this one; 5fm lived up to its motto of being the entertainment capital of South African and came out thriving after this well-planned campaign.
One should never underestimate the power of radio stunts as even though they are an old fashioned marketing trick, they can be behind the growth or fall of a radio station. If you take into account 2dayfm from Australia radio stunt where presenters called Kate Middleton’s nurse while she was in hospital. It ended badly with the nurse committing suicide because of the stunt and presenters losing their jobs and later advertisers pulled out of the station, which led to its demise.
5FM did it first and basically no one else can do it now as it will be too obviously a copycat move. Well done to 5FM for pulling off a novel and great stunt. Only the future will tell if it reached its desired goals.
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