By now, most know of Infinity buying 24 full-page ads as the sole sponsor in this week's edition of Ad Age to promote Stern replacements, including Adam Carolla, David Lee Roth, Penn Jillette and Rover. The cost for that alone was reportedly around 800,000 dollars. What was the reason for that kind of spend? Was it to increase brand awareness for the radio buyers?
No, estimated Rich Russo, JL Media's SVP/Director of Broadcast Services: "The thing they did for Ad Age wasn't to get the radio buyers to be into buying it. That was to get the marketers - - the account directors, the creative guys - - to maybe come up with an idea. I give them credit for trying something to at least get their names out there, but the problem is nobody is going to embrace this talent until they hear it. What they probably should do is a mock broadcast--rent out a huge venue, get all the players in the world (in our community), do a mock hour David Lee Roth broadcast, a mock Carolla broadcast, a mock Rover. Get them all there, have a big party, let these guys do an hour routine and use this built-in focus group of decision-makers and get their feedback."
Maybe that's in the cards, but instead of spending the money that way, for instance, Infinity is spending big bucks in LA alone to promote Adam Carolla there. Said Russo: "They're spending 1.2 million in marketing - - television, etc.-- in December in LA. Are you kidding me?! It's scary, because if he doesn't work, they're f'ed. Then, you're going to have a guy who has never been in morning drive. Everyone is going to listen on January 2nd or 3rd and if these guys aren't funny or aren't up to speed yet, people aren't going to give them a second chance - - that's it! In one of the promo pieces I saw, they've got a picture of Jimmy Kimmel with Carolla. I mean they're pushing the Kimmel thing more than the Carolla thing."
Jean Pool, Universal McCann EVP/Director of North American Operations and Chairman of Media Policy at the AAAAs, sees the move by Infinity as a very smart one: "They had to get the word out that there's life after Howard. I mean Howard, as much as they're poo-poo-ing it and downplaying it, he's a powerful person in that business. And they have certainly got my attention. I know of all the stars they got coming back in, and the money they're putting behind it is encouraging - - because we don't want radio to fail if at all possible. So I think they did the right thing. Advertising works after all - - otherwise, what are we doing here?...I think they are so right in promoting these radio stars, and it's nice to see them promoting it in something other than their own medium."
[Editor's note: Be sure to read more about why she thinks it's necessary to promote radio stars, along with some major concerns on a growing problem in the media and advertising industries - - in Friday's AdBiz.]
Says Kathy Crawford, MindShare President/Local Broadcast: "I certainly think advertising works, but I don't think it was a question changing opinions as much as it is getting people's attention. And that, onto itself, is a reason to do it. Is it worth spending all that money? Well, we're soon going to find out, because rating books are what they are and we'll find out whether or not the listenership is there. And we will never know whether or not the advertising worked because it really wasn't pointed to us. Will they have made money? Will the buyers be spending the money? I think that's the question of the day. They will spend the money if they have it and if they honestly believe in it. And they won't if they don't. Part of me says isn't the sales staffs' responsibility to sell it? But the other part of me says advertising works, we just don't know how well."