How many advertising and marketing research sessions finish with
the participants falling over themselves to take the product home with
them? Probably not all that many.
However, according to Mike Spencer, the marketing director of the
Digital Radio Development Bureau, when the DRDB held research sessions
at its new studio in London's Shaftesbury Avenue, people were whipping
out their cheque books and asking to buy the kit used to demonstrate the
sound of digital radio.
Spencer is hoping that a new advertising drive will have a similar
effect on the UK public. The DRDB, backed by both commercial radio
stations and the BBC, was set up in October 2000 to promote digital
radio to the industry and to the public. But while digital TV has a
healthy profile among consumers, its radio equivalent is struggling to
find a footing. Hence Spencer's hiring of Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters
and Unity last week to launch a generic digital radio brand.
"Digital radio has been around for more than four years, but now the
sector is really beginning to kick in," Spencer says. The task of the
agencies is to tell consumers what Spencer has known for ages - that
digital sounds better.
The agencies are now working on the strategic issues that surround their
rather daunting task. The DRDB needs a generic campaign aimed at a wide
range of consumers. It needs a recognisable brand symbol, in the style
of Dolby or Woolmark, that manufacturers can use to indicate the quality
of the hardware and sound. Finally, it needs to strike a chord with the
radio industry itself and to expand the role of digital within the
All this for a product that costs a considerable amount of money -
buying a digital radio set-up costs around £300. Persuading enough
consumers to buy one, and thus build up some momentum in sales, is a
Spencer, however, says that "price is not necessarily a barrier", and
points to the slow take-up of any new technology outside groups of core
He admits, though, that falling prices would give a much- needed boost
to mainstream take-up. A model priced at less than £100 is in the
pipeline, but it is unlikely to be launched this year.
Spencer wants the campaign to emphasise the sound quality offered by
digital radio, as well as the variety of channels available. He claims
that there will be 112 digital radio stations on the air by the end of
Although creative strategies are still being hatched by the two
agencies, Spencer says that plans include event marketing as well as
radio and press.
It is likely, however, that the campaign will concentrate on radio
"The sound quality can't be conveyed in a better way than by allowing
consumers to hear it," he says.
Spend is a grey area - the DRDB is reliant on its shareholders for the
financial backing for the advertising drive. "As awareness is one of the
most important things we need to build upon, we will be looking to get
the most for the resources we have," Spencer says.