Today FM listens to listeners as rebrand weathers perfect storm
TODAY FM CEO Keith McCormack told a Marketing Institute breakfast about the “perfect storm” facing the Communicorp station as it rebranded. In a presentation entitled ‘Oh, It’s On Brand’, McCormack said the Irish radio market had become crowded, digital audio was “the new deal” and the way 25- to 44-year-olds engaged with radio had changed utterly.
Some soul-searching was needed to reinvent Today FM. Who are we? What do we stand for? Why do we exist? How do we remain relevant? When the station started 20 years ago, it was seen as original, even maverick. But consumer feedback showed the station had become stale, marked by comments like “old”, “boring”, “staid” and “not what it was”.
McCormack and his team dug deeper and asked if Today FM had lost its edge. Research showed they had formed a cultural connection with listeners who felt they owned “a local, national station”. Craic, live events and entertainment served with a dollop of irreverence became the new content pillars around which they would build. A multi-platform strategy was fine-tuned in targeting ‘the reluctant adult’. New streaming services were rolled out, with music from the 80s, 90s and alternative. The changes saw Today FM achieve a daily reach of 412,000 listeners and 884,000 every week. Branding agency Dynamo was hired to create a new look and Publicis devised the ‘Oh, It’s On’ ads. The idea of dropping the station’s trademark yellow was short-lived.
Communicorp recently rolled out AudioXi, which is digital audio content streamed through a connected device. The market is set to grow to €6m by 2021. Headed up by Rob Timony, AudioXi launched with 20 million monthly impressions, from more than 20 independent podcast aggregators to music and radio streams. Brand owners access audiences directly or programmatically. Ads are relayed through chosen podcasts, live streams or music playlists. Partnering with AdsWizz, AudioXi provides targeted audiences by location, age, gender or contextual and behavioural segmentation. Aer Lingus signed up as AudioXi’s launch partner. Carat brokered the deal, working with the airline’s head of marketing Derek Liddy.
⬤ On the adland pitch front, three agencies are competing for AA Ireland’s media-buying: Javelin, GroupM’s Wavemaker and the incumbent, Core’s Zenith. Javelin created the series of AA ads with the two yappy dogs, Mulligan and Butch, looking after their respective families’ insurance cover. AA’s head of marketing Laura Conlon-McKenna said the ads earned strong traction.
Meanwhile, a Dublin agency is set to land the Aer Lingus creative account, with Publicis and Accenture Interactive’s Rothco battling it out. KesselsKramer
handled the airline in recent years.
⬤ On job moves, Nick Curtis-Davis has joined Bord Bia as head of brand development. He was with Diageo for seven years, where he was European innovation manager. Elaine McDevitt has stepped down as MD of the Institute of Creative Advertising & Design (ICAD). PR consultant and author of ‘Candy-Coated Marketing’ Sheena Horgan has replaced Niamh Gallagher as CEO of Drinkaware, whose vision is “an Ireland without alcohol misuse”. Drinkaware is funded by drinks companies and grocery retailers.
⬤ Next up at the Marketing Institute breakfast series, partnered by Kay McCarthy’s MCCP, is a presentation by Visit Cork’s destination manager Ursula Morrish in Fire Restaurant on October 17. In a talk entitled Pure Cork!, Morrish will speak about developing a new brand for the city and county, supported by new visual identity to promote the region to home and overseas visitors. Fiacre O’Donnell of branded glass container maker Encirc will speak on ‘Breaking the Mould’ in November.
⬤ And finally... As MC for IAPI’s Adfx awards in the RDS, stand-up Deirdre O’Kane couldn’t resist indulging in some gentle putdowns as the winners made for the stage. O’Kane said it’s time Boys + Girls were called Girls + Boys. Even the grand prix winner didn’t escape O’Kane’s jibes. “In the Company of Huskies was named after the Neil Jordan film (Company of Wolves), but they just couldn’t remember the name,” she remarked sheepishly.
Talking point:Today FM, with its flagshipIan Dempsey breakfast show, has rebranded