There’s nothing new about DJs personally endorsing a product or service. But current economic conditions have spurred a newfound interest in the practice, in Indianapolis, at least, according to the Indianapolis Star. Businesses scrambling to get maximum bang for their buck are meeting radio stations starving for cash and reviving the DJ endorsement technique. In one case, a DJ for an Emmis station was given a free Lasik treatment in exchange for talking about it over the air. Emmis employees say the endorsement deals are for shorter terms than in the past but nonetheless have double in volume in a year. A wide spectrum of ad categories, from cell phones to dog food, is getting into the act.
One consultant traced the practice back to the 1930s, but noted that it was largely abandoned by music-oriented stations as a distraction, keeping a lease on life in the Talk radio universe. But tougher times have led many to reconsider the technique. There is even reason to believe that the practice helps to strengthen the bond between DJ and listener, not to mention the obvious enhancement to the DJ/client relationship.
RBR/TVBR observation: Memo to FCC: As you consider new rules on product placement, please note that in this case, product placement is actually relying on and supporting live local broadcast programming – precisely promoting the FCC’s lynchpin goal of localism. Please keep that in mind before making it difficult to execute such a campaign.