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Brand interruptions


Radio is back in our lives. Or at least my life.

With commutes to work in the car being a part of the daily routine listening to radio is my preferred way to pass time.

And I am appalled at what I hear on the radio here in Nairobi. Or at least the way the programs are constructed.

To my mind, fundamentally, the radio comprises of 2 elements. Music and News.

Different radio channels do different kinds of music. So one can choose what one wants to listen to and then choose the music.

News tends to be uniform across the channels and it takes usually 3 forms. There is general news, which includes politics, sports business and the ilk. There is traffic news. And lastly there is entertainment ‘gossip’ news. Quite a simple formula really and in nearly every country I have listened to radio this pretty much is what one hears.

The RJ’s primary role then is one of anchoring the music. Introduce the songs, talk about it, invite call ins etc.

In some countries the RJ may decide to talk about a topic that could be of relevance to the demographic that the station targets and engage the listener. But at the core of his/her job is the music.

What I hear often in Nairobi is, literally, 2 independent channels in one.

There is the songs which play every few minutes.

There is the yakking by the RJs completely disconnected to the music. Most of it has to do with relationships in all its variants. And there’s a fair bit of sport. But the music is completely incidental. Rarely do they refer to the tracks. They often behave like the music did not even exist.

I just find the experience rather jarring and prefer to switch off the radio than the toing and froing between 2 disconnected activities.

I see many brands behaving in this schizoid manner.

There’s a lot of activity being put out but seldom does one connect with the next one and each is viewed in isolation. A visiting friend I was talking to last evening was talking about his brand advertising by saying how sometimes they advertising in English, sometimes in the local language. Sometimes a celebrity is used. Sometimes it is a song. It is like each campaign is created to solve the specific problem at hand with little regard to what happened previously. Imagine if you were the brand’s consumer. You’d be left wondering what in the world was going on.

Clearly brand communications don’t need to be similar or the same. There has to be a core that is retained through every communications.

For example: What does a British doctor have to do with India-Pakistan partition?

The answer is Google.

First see this: Dr Who

Then see this: Reunion

You just got to say ‘ So clever’. And that is what you feel after every Google communication/ad. If not there is an aberration taking place right there. (Ok I am simplifying big time to make my point!!)

I see those as brand interruptions. They create a burr, and using marketing jargon, create ‘dissonance’.

These don’t have to be ads of course. Yesterday someone I follow tweeted about a shabby coffee outlet at the airport. This from a brand that does classy/good looking outlets everywhere else. It clearly caused enough of an impact for him to tweet about it.

Good, strong brands have a well articulated core and then ensure that nothing that is put out deviates from communicating that core. Be it a retail outlet, a promotion or even a radio ad.

Till that happens it’s going to be an RJ talking about hair weaves right after ‘Walk of life’.!!


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