For a brand such as fcuk, which has managed to maintain its cool edge since the adoption of the fcuk campaign seven years ago, there is always the pressure of devising ways to keep it one step ahead of the marketing crowd.
This summer, fcuk and its agencies (principally TBWA\London for creative and Manning Gottlieb OMD for media) have come up with the idea of launching an fcuk-branded radio station. The station is planning to broadcast across April and May, to drive shoppers kitting out their spring/summer wardrobes into stores. After this, the company will decide whether to make it a permanent fixture.
The radio station will broadcast from 1 April from the window of the flagship fcuk Oxford Circus store. The store has already been sporting the station slogan "None of the hits, none of the time", which highlights the irreverent personality of the brand.
MG OMD's media strategy is a classic example of the Marshall McLuhan quote: "The medium is the message." The most innovative part of the campaign involves playing pre-recorded soundbites from the station to tube passengers walking through Oxford Circus station, the first time this has been done.
Sound chips have been installed in the ceilings of the five corridors that converge in front of the exit escalators. The music will be complemented by posters along the corridors with slogans such as "feeling funky" and "jump around", devised by TBWA.
At a cost of around £90,000, the chips will play two ten-second bursts of music from the station every minute. Conscious that regular commuters will be using the route twice a day, the agency decided only to operate this for a month. "Much longer than that and I think people would start getting irritated," Melinda Athinodorou, the account director at MG OMD, explains.
The idea of piping "as live" music to tube travellers via sound chips had been bounced around the agency in the past, but a suitable client hadn't been found. "But this was perfect for the fcuk radio station and Posterscope was able to arrange the posters and sound chips as one deal with (London Underground's media sales agency) Viacom Outdoor," Athinodorou adds.
Other poster sites include London's Talgarth, Holland Park and Old Street roundabouts as well as regional cities. Fcuk has already had a presence on the new Texaco Tower site on the M4 in February, booked to catch fashion industry people on their way from Heathrow into London Fashion Week shows.
To promote fcuk FM, fcuk has also arranged for boards to be fixed to lampposts in London and in 11 regional cities sporting single-sheet poster ads. Lamppost boards tend to be used to promote clubs and festivals, an association fcuk is happy to establish. While this is still fly posting, it was felt the boards look of a higher quality.
The boards have been arranged by Diabolical Liberties. It will also be sending people out on to the streets over the next couple of days to write in chalk on pavements how to access fcuk FM (Sky Digital channel 934, online at the fcuk site, and in stores). A chalk hit squad will also be scribbling in front of other radio stations' studios.
The media strategy also includes ads that are hosted close to the point of accessing the station. As fcuk FM can be heard on digital TV, the media blitz also includes five-second "sting" ads on MTV, as well as online banner ads directing internet surfers to the fcuk site. Exposure Digital has also created a microsite.
With guest DJs including Peter Andre, it remains to be seen if fcuk FM will ever be more than a brilliantly conceived but shortlived brand extension.
Media: TV, outdoor, in-store, street stunts
Agencies: TBWA\London, Manning Gottlieb OMD, Diabolical Liberties,
Media idea: Make the launch of fcuk FM cheeky and irreverent to fit with
the positioning of the brand