Networks without a strong national brand are a ‘house of cards’ says Nova marketing boss

L:R Moderator Alex Hayes, Nova's Thomas, SCA's Clarkson and ARN's Xydis

L:R Moderator Alex Hayes, Nova’s Thomas, SCA’s Clarkson and ARN’s Xydis

Radio networks need to look at building strong national brands that are not built solely on individual talent says group marketing director of Nova Entertainment Tony Thomas, or else they risk becoming a “house of cards”.

“I think network brands are really important,” said Thomas. “We have had really strong markets around the country and that strength in not just about individual breakfast shows or strong drive or strong night shows its actually about the whole package together.

“The Nova brand is a model. It is a strong brand, there is a huge amount of equity in the Nova brand as a network brand and I think what we have done is manage to build that brand and the talent and at the same time so if we have key talent who leave us, then it is not a house of cards.”

The comments were made during a wide ranging Mumbrella Meet the Marketers  discussion at the National Radio Conference in Melbourne, between Thomas and his fellow counterparts Nikki Clarkson, head of marketing at Southern Cross Austereo and Anthony Xydis, national marketing director of Australian Radio Network.

Among the other key insights in the discussion, were the admission by Clarkson that today’s rebrand of the “daggy” SAFM was an attempt to emulate some of the success of ARN’s KissFM in Sydney with a more youthful energetic brand and ARN’s marketing boss arguing that it would be “crazy not to simplify” its various brands given the success of KissFM in Sydney.

Clarkson told the room that it was “way too early” to say if SCA would roll the Hit107 into other markets. “From my perspective it is way too early to provide any intel on that,” she said.

“We do see benefit in our national brand structure with Triple M which delivers fantastic revenue results and consistent ratings as well but it is way too early to tell”.

ARN’s Xydis was also cautious noting that the strength of the MixFM brands in markets like Adelaide would make it challenging to rollout the KiisFM brand nationally.

“I think it is quite different when you are building a brand from scratch,” said Xydis. “We have got brands in Brisbane and Adelaide which are very, very strong number ones, with a lot of heritage.

“Certainly you do not throw the baby out with the bath water just because you have had success in one city (with Kiis in Sydney). I certainly would never be advocating with something like our Mix brand in Adelaide to be throwing out the equity of a station that is extremely popular.”

However, Xydis then went on to say that the brand propositions could be simplified over time. “What I would say though is that we would be crazy not to simplify our network offering over time but that requires for the brand promise to be there and for the brands to be carefully.”

Nova’s Thomas responded to the Xydis’s remarks by quipping: “So does that mean you are or aren’t doing it?”

During the session Clarkson also spoke honestly about some of the problems facing SCA both in 2DayFM in Sydney and also in Adelaide with SAFM which she described as “daggy”.

“We do have our challenges in Sydney there is no doubt about that,” she said. “But what we do have is a vast portfolio of radio stations and that gives us an opportunity to talk to defined audiences and Triple M is a good example of that.”

On the SAFM rebrand she said: “We wanted to change the sound of the station. SAFM did have a daggy perception around it, there is no doubt about that, so with a new show line up and a new sound to the packaging and a tweak of the music for us it was the focus of the Adelaide business and for us the time was right to do that.”

Nic Christensen is a guest of Commercial Radio Australia in Melbourne


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