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Controversy Proves the Power of Radio

| April 23, 2013

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media

NEW YORK: Let’s review a show that promotes:

  Co-habitation without the benefit of marriage; Sexual stereotypes — girls throw themselves at football players just for a kiss.

•  Racial stereotypes. For example, it promotes the need for more black friends in order to be appealing.

  The discussion of condoms.

•  Living together and sex with strangers.

Then, it promotes even more living together and sex with strangers and the humor of meeting a possible mass murderer.

That show commands the highest spot rates of any comedy show this year.  It is on Fox.

NEW GIRL.  New Girl, a show promoting sex with strangers pulls the highest per spot rate of any comedy series on Fox.

Here’s the source — Ad Age:  “The other big surprise:  Fox’s ‘New Girl’ has zoomed to fourth place, coming within $10,000 of surpassing TV’s third-highest priced show, ‘Modern Family.  While the Dunphy clan saw the average cost of 30-second ad surge to $330,908 from last season’s average of $249,388, the Zooey Deschannel sitcom clocked in at an average cost of $320,940 for a 30-second spot — more than double its average cost of $125,488 in its freshman season.”

$320,940 per spot! And we’re talking about a :30.

This is old news. For decades TV shows promoting murder, violence, unmarried sex partners (Gilmore Girls) and anal bleaching (TMZ), have commanded high rates for spots from General Moters, Chrysler, Ford, Sony, Verizon, ATT and all your favorites. Why aren’t those shows on do-not-buy lists?

It’s because watching those shows is not a profound, intimate experience. Those shows are watched passively. They command no engagement resulting in no complaints. However their content is as “controversial” as any radio show and they have the bonus of a visual component.

Note that the FCC website begs for complaints: They want those complaints, the form is easy to fill out! (But when you lose your bags, the plane is late and the horrible flight attendants insult you, where is the FAA complaint page?  It doesn’t exist.)

Listening to a talk radio show is a 100% foreground experience. Unlike music, talking on the radio commands 100% attention. The listener is ENGAGED with the show. The big buzzword at the ad agencies right now is ENGAGEMENT. An emotional listener is an engaged listener. Happy, angry, passionate listeners are worth a premium price per spot.

Congratulations, talk radio gives brands engagement.  Celebrate! Buy time!

The fact is that over 1,000 cable channels and 10,000 radio stations fight for any level of attention. If one word from a radio show or one scene from a TV show can be quoted… it’s a miracle. Miracles are valuable.

A great challenge for all brands today is their complete loss of control of their image on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This terrifies them.  They have conventions that discuss nothing but this fear. What they will discover is that in the new media universe, all conversation about their brand is a win. The consumer is now the “creative arm” of the agency.


Walter Sabo is chairman of Sabo Media, a consultation firm that provides the latest on future trends to its clients. He can be emailed at  Meet Walter Sabo at Talkers New York 2013 on Thursday, June 6.



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Category: Analysis, Sales