The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Positioning: The New Mud
February 10, 2009, 6:52 am
Filed under: Comment

I’ve written about the lack of differentiation in radio before, but it still astounds me how many of them can still go with the ‘Best of the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and today’ bollocks.

Wherever I’ve visited in the World, I have always … and I mean ALWAYS … heard a radio station position itself with that same, inane line.

I have to say, I almost admire the balls of the above radio station for having the nerve to splash ‘ENJOY THE DIFFERENCE’ on their ad.

And what difference might that be eh?

Is it that one of your bland DJ’s now saya “You’re listening to 91.3FM” instead of “Radio WKRZ” or “Radio Heart”?

Oooooooh, that’s big news – hell, that would make me switch over, I mean, that’s just strategic genius.

Then there’s the fact they say they’re 100% fun when they also say they play the ‘biggest hits of the 90’s’ is confusing.

Well ‘Nothing Compares To You’ was one of the biggest hits of that decade and I don’t think “fun” is the kind of word most people would use to describe it.

Now in Asia, differentiation is an interesting concept. It’s interesting because one of the value systems of the region is ‘group acceptance’ and so being different from everyone else is actually a negative rather than a highly sought after marketing goal. Of course people don’t say that – they all claim to want to be ‘unique’ – but the reality is they only want that as long as they can be the same as everyone else at the same time.

Of course this can lead to incredibly frustrating times – however with reasoned argument, good insights and a sound, relevant business case, you can make it happen, as we did with SONY and our ‘FEEL’ idea.

Anyway the purpose for that brief culture lesson is that maybe Radio 91.3FM are simply playing to cultural rules and actively seeking to sound/present themselves as a similar radio station to all the other local independents around the World.

Believe it or not, this is not necessarily a bad strategy.

There are times when being like everyone else is a sound idea – for example if you’re way down in the public’s consciousness, saying you’re exactly the same as the leader and making sure that interms of media, you’re wherever they are, can lead to a real boost in your awareness, sales and profitability.

It’s nothing new … Heron paracetamol did it in Oz against Panadol and way back before the earth was fully formed, I did a similar thing with Fuji Film [at least interms of media strat] against Kodak.

Of course I’m being polite – because even if Radio 91.3FM were adopting that strategy, it doesn’t excuse the fact their ad is bloody horrendous.

And why the hell have they had so many name changes? What’s going on with that?

Of course letting people know when you’ve changed your name is important – but it never fails to amaze me how few companies take the opportunity to do something that represents a change in their fundamental offering – something that is genuinely beneficial to the end user rather than simply spending shit loads of cash getting society to think ‘same shit, different name’.

Recently our esteemed Mr Dodds slagged off Norwich Union/AVIVA’s name change commercial.

I understand why he did that – and I appreciate many of the subsequent disapproving comments are valid [though sometimes a name change has allowed people with talent get noticed and as such, realise their potential] – but compared to the numerous ads that try and do a similar thing [ie: the one above] or the countless alcohol companies who promote their new bottle [despite the fact it’s more likely to be seen behind a bar rather than in your house], I think it’s a hell of a lot better than most.

Of course all I’m doing is congratulating a semi-decent spot against a bunch of super low standard ones – abit like saying George Bush wasn’t as bad as Hitler – and without doubt it would have been so much better if they’d done something with their product that signified a real change and benefit to their customers rather than just relying on an ad [something that made people care about insurance, rather than just view it as a passive industry that makes excuses when you need to make a claim] … but given the legal legislation required to do things like that, married to the general apathy big corporations have to make something great happen, I guess the spot shows at least a bit of thought went into the campaign.

God how bad is that – I’m giving praise for a bit of consideration – is that how low we’ve gone?

Positioning – be it differentiated or not – should paint a clear and concise idea of that brand in your mind. It could be about who the company is, what they think, what they believe, what they want, what they do etc … it doesn’t matter [well it does, but you hopefully know what I mean] but to have something that actually tells you nothing, as Radio 91.3FM have just done, is pretty much against every principal of brand building.

Saying that, I know they’re a radio station … and I know they play music from the 90’s … so when you compare it to the rubbish McCann Singapore did for 987FM, you almost feel you’re in the presence of genius.

Yep, we’ve really stooped that low!

PS: We’re in the middle of a pitch for an insurance company and hopefully if we win, Mr Dodds will approve of our idea and if he doesn’t, then I’ll put it down to him being a miserable old sod. Delusion can be great sometimes, ha!


27 Comments

Normally it’s the comments that go off in all manner of directions but today it’s the post.

So many topics and interesting morsals of information here even if you find yourself acknowledging an ad for being less terrible than all the rest.

Thank goodness you realized that or your credibility might of taken a hit. 🙂

Great post for all sorts of insights/reminders and it brought back memories of my time in Asia. Scary memories which somehow you have managed to keep to a minimum in your Asian adventure. You swine.

Comment by Pete

i don’t think i’d survive in asia (except japan). the radio would kill me. i just know it. and group acceptance.. well, i don’t do it all that well either. there goes my k-pop career.. 🙁

Comment by lauren

Asia is amazing Lauren and whilst on ‘face value’ the group acceptance thing is alive and well, it doesn’t take more than a cursory look to see a whole underbelly of self focus, self interest and self expression. The problem is that it’s the white elephant because whilst everyone knows what people say and what people do is especially different in Asia, no one wants to be the brand to lift the lid on it all.

It’s this kind of mindfuck that makes the place amazing and ironically, very creative because it’s almost as if ‘expression prohibition’ has created a more concentrated creative force within certain people and groups.

Does that make sense?

Come over and we’ll show you where you the places and people where you’ll “fit in” 🙂

Comment by Rob

The only justification for changing your name is if you change what you do and/or what you stand for. Here endeth the lesson.

Comment by John

this post is going to be redundant now isnt it campbell? what a waste of time and my fucking money

Comment by andy@cynic

Your most pertinent comment yet Andy, ha!

And Mr D, I don’t agree. Well, I do – but I also accept that there are times when communicating a name change can be important. The bigger issue is WHY companies change their name … because more often than not, it seems there is no purpose other than ‘cost efficiencies’ and/or ‘ego’.

Comment by Rob

It would be a shame if people didn’t see this post because I agree with Peter that it covers a range of issues that highlight what is and what isn’t important in the development of a muscular brand positioning.

Comment by Lee Hill

oooh, muscular brand positioning – I must remember that. made be go all of a quiver. does it need virile values, a throbbing set of key messages and a tight, perfectly formed little essence too.

Comment by Mr McG

are name changes perhaps the veil to conceil consolidations and mergers, which in these times are happening frequently?

If the parent company holds more than 40% of the market a name change could purely be a legal strat as not to make joe pub go all big brother crazy, because of the impressions it being bought and sold regularly.

we don’t know who the audience intended is here. we assume it’s the public, but perhaps it the legal department or the justice department..

Comment by niko

Unlike Mr McG who is taking the piss – I really like the idea of a ‘muscular brand position’ … and I’m not even saying that because you pay the bills. It might seem a little thing, but it’s expressions like that which demonstrate the Virgin difference interms of brand attitude and hunger.

OK, so I did say that last bit because you do pay the bills. 🙂

[PS: Thanks for the legal requirements for an EGM, goes to show Andy knows fuck all. Creatives – always missing the point of the brief, ha!]

Comment by Rob

Hi Niko …

While there are legal requirements regarding name changes etc, as far as I know most legislation only requires a classified ad in some mainstream newspaper.

Don’t know if that’s the case for all industries, but in many cases it seems the underpinning reason for spending shedloads on a new brand name is ego or commercial efficiency.

Comment by Rob

Lee, I did not realize you have budget sign off power, in which case can I wholeheartedly retract my previous comment which was ill thought out and without foundation. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you, your company, your family and friends and any one else that my poorly timed, ill conceived comment may have offended. I look forward to developing muscular brand campaigns with you and your (equally muscular) cheque book in the near future. I am now taking myself outside and administering a sound thrashing to myself as penance.

Comment by Mr McG

Interesting new business strategy you have there Mr McG … not as good as leveraging the close personal friendship one of your colleagues has with ‘God’ … but good all the same.

Comment by Rob

Oh I hate local radio with a passion. Autmoated playlists aimed at the lowest common denomenator with no sense of soul or quality in them at all.

The local station in Sheffield used to play the same track by the Beautiful south EVERY DAY. EVERY FUCKING DAY. I nearly threw the radio out of the window. The only thing that saved it was that being on Hallam meant they didnt have it on Smooth FM.

I am so glad not to be in that fucking office now.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

What you have just described could be a subliminal reason why so much of our industry looks down on regional agencies – despite the fact there are many that are doing way more interesting work than the ‘big boys’.

We wouldn’t call CP+B a regional agency – and yet based on the crap criteria so many companies use to define them [ie: not in London/NYC/LA etc …] they absolutely meet that criteria!

I’m seeing some of the CP+B boys in a few weeks, I’ll put it to them and see what they say. And if I end up with a black eye, it’s all your fault Mr M.

Comment by Rob

you have play your best hand with the cards you get given! as dean martin says in the cannonball run – ‘god is my co pilot’

Comment by Mr McG

Haha… that should be fun!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

i m a bit late… but this ad is just totally confusing. if i would still think of them as radio heart, then they would play oldies. and radio wnkrz plays metal (sorry ;). so they must have changed the rotation calling themselves 91.3fm now. they must. and then this radio channel is entirely new. playing 90’s music. for a new target group. why would i bother potential new listeners with assumptions about the uncool heritage… and 100% is pure, no? maybe this ad is funny. and they were never called radio heart or wnkrz. i don t know. i m confused…

Comment by peggy

I’ve just read your comment and im fucking confused. you should be a planner peggy

Comment by andy@cynic

so you think i should be a planner, because i m confusing you. i m probably a rather crappy planner, if i m confusing the creatives. so that s it then. all my dreams perished.

Comment by peggy

campbell is a planner. in fact hes my planner and he confuses every fucker so take it as a compliment just accept well do what the fuck we like regardless of what you say or write on a piece of shitty paper 🙂

Comment by andy@cynic

now i get it. a planner must confuse the creatives until they think they are just doing what they like 😛

Comment by peggy

What are you doing awake at this time Peggy? It’s 3 in the morning for you – have you been on the extra grande, grande lattes or something?

And the reason Andy is confused is because I use words of more than 1 syllable …

Comment by Rob

i have stuff to do. no time to sleep in, unfortunately. it s actually 7:30 am here. but yes, i m drinking too much coffee. hoping it helps my brain coming alive again…

Comment by peggy

It doesn’t work Peggy – I’ve had shitloads of caffine today and I’m still spouting the same old nonsense as normal – I’m just able to say it far more quickly.

Comment by Rob

i m trying coke now. maybe the sugar helps… as if you would ever talk nonsense 🙂

Comment by peggy

@andy: i was just being cheeky. hope it didnt come across the wrong way.

Comment by peggy




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