Sound Advice for Radio Execs

  • by November 21, 2001
At the Radio Advertising Bureau’s (RAB) annual Advertiser Day and semi-annual Board of Directors Meeting in San Francisco last week, marketing and advertising consultant Phil Guarascio delivered a rousing speech that challenged top-line industry executives to “be ready” for the changes ahead.

In reference to an open letter to the Radio industry written by RAB President & CEO Gary Fries last month, Guarascio, who last May retired as VP of Advertising and Corporate Marketing from General Motors after 14 years, stressed the need to create better professionals and urged the industry to “support training initiatives that the RAB has in place. You are going to need better-qualified people.”

According to Guarascio, who currently consults for such brands as P&G Ventures, the NFL, and William Morris, big marketers’ desire to integrate will lead to a convergence of media planning. “Media buying has become a commodity practice,” he said and warned that changes were coming. “It’s not just CPMs, but how things happen in the marketplace.”

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He declared the time was ripe for creativity and fresh ideas and perceived an immense opportunity for that at the local level. “Good media buyers understand the personality of a (Radio) station within the market and the context of that station and how it connects with an audience. There is an opportunity to leverage that,” he said.

He also explained how in the new cross-platform selling, one had to take a horizontal as well as vertical view. “These deals are about using a medium to help a client meet an objective that is not just about CPM or brand visibility. Radio is at the table, but not enough,” he warned. “Make sure you are in all the negotiations….. and make sure you are at the table when the deal goes down.”

Guarascio also noted the increasing demand from clients for accountability from their agencies and their media buys. “That’s why RAEL (Radio Ad Effectiveness Lab) is so appropriate. You absolutely need to do this!” he emphasized. “You have to get past re-selling the medium each time you go into a buy.” Gurarascio did suggest that for RAEL findings to be most beneficial, the Radio industry would have to “find a way to give it a local flavor.

“Most advertisers are looking for ways to take their big national assets, like the Olympics, and drive it down to the local level. This is an opportunity for Radio, if you can get in there early enough.”

Pointing out that $175 billion was spent in advertising last year, Guarascio noted that, “the big issue is knowing exactly what to do with that money, strategically. How do we position our brands and products?” According to Guarascio, “there will be more emphasis on local marketing from the big marketers.”

Predicting that marketing through entertainment would be the next big sector; he also projected new money would be coming into the media business, particularly for companies aligned with multi-media assets. “But, get in on the ground floor,” he urged. “Be ready!”

Lastly, he urged the Radio industry to “steal good ideas.” He counseled against remaining insular and encouraged Radio industry executives to be aware and knowledgeable of emerging trends in competing media.

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