CAMPAIGN DIRECT: MARKETING CHALLENGE - The radio campaign that was blessed with a magic touch - Ambient media played as large a part in relaunching Emap’s Yorkshire stations as TV, Michele Martin says

Anyone living outside Yorkshire could be forgiven for not having heard of Magic AM. Aside from being one of the UK’s newest radio stations, it broadcasts from Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, plays golden oldies and is on the hugely unfashionable AM frequency.

Anyone living outside Yorkshire could be forgiven for not having

heard of Magic AM. Aside from being one of the UK’s newest radio

stations, it broadcasts from Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, plays golden

oldies and is on the hugely unfashionable AM frequency.



Yet Malcolm Cox, marketing director of Magic’s parent company, Emap

Radio, talks glowingly about its future. ’Magic is a national brand. It

just happens to be available only in the North,’ he says. And from the

man whose last Emap job was marketing director of Kiss FM, such fighting

talk should not be taken lightly.



A complex multi-media campaign by the creative communications company,

Mother, and the media shop, Rocket, was launched last month to promote

the station, backed by a pounds 1 million spend.



The aim is to build a strong AM brand delivering an audience of affluent

post-baby boomers, with a format that can roll out nationally, possibly

by franchise. It was an achievement Cox managed with Kiss and he wants

to repeat it. He says: ’We’re evaluating other AM services to see if

they are ready for the Magic touch, and looking for appropriate

acquisitions.’



Yet just a few months ago, Magic was just a gleam in Cox’s eye. The fact

that the first station is now running, backed by a comprehensive

marketing campaign, says a great deal about the closeness between Emap

and its agencies. Because, in the best tradition of integrated

communications, Mother and Rocket were asked to come up first with the

nature of the brand itself and then a campaign delivered to a uniquely

targeted audience.



The two got involved earlier this year after Emap had commissioned

extensive market research. The company wanted to revamp its existing AM

licences, beginning with Great Yorkshire Gold, and had asked what 35- to

44-year-olds wanted. It discovered that hits from the late 80s and early

90s, two ad breaks an hour and regional variations would be popular.



Emap then developed a station name, format and projected audience before

asking agencies for what Mother’s Stef Calcraft calls: ’the brand

thought for a station’. The two companies identified the lifestyle of

the projected audience, through demographic surveys such as TGI. ’We

found they indexed heavily against shopping and motoring,’ John Harlow,

the media director of Rocket, says.



The creative idea began to appear. ’Music makes you feel good, as if by

magic,’ Calcraft says. The line became the central force of a campaign,

written by Mark Waites and Libby Brockhoff, which has a fun, slightly

kitsch feel.



The agencies then developed a campaign. Building awareness through TV

spots was the first step, using unlikely stars - such as dancing kittens

and drumming toddlers - and the line ’As if ... by Magic’. In one spot,

a dog’s ears begin flapping to the chorus of I Believe I Can Fly by R.

Kelly.



But perhaps the more notable aspect of the strategy was its use of

ambient media in a way that the agencies claim a non-fmcg product had

never done before. Rocket and Mother exploited every media opportunity.

’We treated ambient media with equal, if not greater, respect than TV,’

Harlow says. Promotions included competitions where shoppers sent in

till receipts for ’Free food as if ... by Magic’, incentivising them to

listen to Magic to hear if they had won a refund.



Other ads and promotions appeared on petrol-pump nozzles, supermarket

trolleys and Superlite poster sites. Swat teams ambushed cars to retune

radios in return for goodie bags.



Delivering the strategy was complex because Magic was replacing Great

Yorkshire Gold on three frequencies - Magic 828 in Leeds, Magic 1161 in

Hull and Magic AM in Sheffield - making three campaigns necessary.

Rocket made a map of the geographical reach of the stations,

distribution of retail outlets and population densities, to identify

where each campaign would appear. It then worked with the ambient media

specialist, Media Initiatives, and supermarket trolley buyer, the Media

Vehicle, to deliver the plan. ’It broke new ground and was a real

headache but we insisted it happened,’ Harlow says.



After less than a month it is still too early to say how successful the

campaign has been. However, Magic says it has been inundated with till

receipts from listeners and everyone is in buoyant mood.



Cox puts his early optimism down to a team that implemented an

incredibly complex plan. ’The devil was in the detail, but Rocket and

Mother fitted together brilliantly,’ he says. ’If they hadn’t, we’d have

come out with something, but it wouldn’t have been as good.’ If the

station is a success, it seems that magic will have had little to do

with it.