Opinion: Newland on ... Magic 105.4

My favourite ad of all time is a little-known spot for Magic 105.4 by Mother. To the soundtrack of Take That's Back For Good, a baby in a high chair is featured having a strop; its tiny hands have been replaced by adults ones, which have better stropping gestures. It was really funny, and it inspired me to tune in, albeit briefly.

So it was with some interest that I clicked on the mpeg of St Luke's first work for the radio station when it arrived in my inbox. Out boomed Dido. Despite loud protests from my colleagues (a bunch of Dido-haters), I continued to watch the ad.

What followed was what Magic and St Luke's must have feared most: I didn't notice that the ad was cast with a series of look-alikes. To me, the plot consisted of a woman in a Mini driving through town listening to Dido with several onlookers taking an inexplicable interest in her and her taste in music.

I called over a colleague, and we watched it again. Nada. She didn't notice either. We were forced to turn to the press release to understand the commercial.

This may have been down to the quality of the mpeg, so I'll park the point there. I still don't like the ad, though.

In essence, Magic is easy listening music for women in their thirties.

Now liking easy listening and being in your thirties is not necessarily something women want to admit to. It's not a very cool state of affairs.

This lack of coolness is epitomised by Dido. Her pure tones are 100 per cent nerdy.

That's not to say that the target audience wouldn't mind tuning in to Magic and hearing a bit of Dido, it's simply that they would never want to be summed up as a "Dido-liker". However, this ad invites Dido-likers to be brazen and tune in.

The Dido-liker featured in the ad (you can tell she's really into Dido because she cranks the volume up at the beginning of the spot) drives a Mini around town. This is exactly the car a Dido-liker would aspire to own. It's really girly and neat.

The new Magic ad makes a cliche out of its listeners, and nobody wants to admit they're cliched. If the ad followed the woman for the rest of the day, she'd shop in Jigsaw before inviting the girls around for some Ernest & Julio Gallo Chardonnay and a gossip.

In addition, the ad excludes those who do not fit exactly into the cliched demographic. I've noticed a lot of taxi drivers listen to Magic, the new ad could make them embarrassed to do so.

Some of Mother's executions for Magic were more likeable than others, but their humour consistently gave the brand a bit of edge. Any attempt at edginess has been ditched in the new work.

There is one thing the spot does ably, however. It makes viewers aware of the station's repertoire. Once you've clocked the look-alike gimmic, you will pay attention and try to identify them all. Most of the look-alikes are pretty poor, but this adds to the intrigue. As the ad plays out you'll be inadvertently soaking up a knowledge of Magic's playlist.

I suspect this was the brief: make consumers aware of the artists featured on Magic - the station lives in fear of people thinking it plays only Frank Sinatra and Hank Williams.

However, Magic could have got more for its money if it had attempted some branding at the same time. The commercial gives potential listeners nothing to latch on to, unless it's a hatred for Dido.

Dead cert for a Pencil? Unconvincing look-alikes combined with a Dido

soundtrack. I don't think so.

File under ... H for hit the mute button.

What would the chairman's wife say? "Who was that flower-seller meant to

be?"

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