Among the questions that I’m asked, like “Have you been drinking, sir?” and “Who does your hair?” is “What do you think the best promotion was?”
That’s subjective. If you asked a GM and a PD and a talent and a Sales Manager and a listener that question, you’d get five different answers. And they’d all be right.
My answer, today, at this moment, on a sunny afternoon in Minnesota as I take a break from trying to discern the directions for a new hammock, would be “The Xtreme Radio beach house in Honolulu.”
There was a point in history when MTV played videos and they did contests that should have been on the Radio. Giving away a pink house? Please. Totally a radio contest. Having Prince come and take you to a movie screening? Radio contest. So when they did a beach house in 1998, I immediately thought, “radio promotion” and quickly lobbed it at all of the Clifton stations.
It took a couple of months but Xtreme Radio in Honolulu took it on and hit it out of the park.
Work? Oh yeah. It was pretty much run by the promo team and interns, many of whom would stay there for days before rotating out. Food was catered in from a different client every day. There was a DJ and turntables on the balcony overlooking the basketball court. A Red Cross certified promo person was the lifeguard. The garage was filled with play-for-free vintage arcade games. There was secured and monitored parking down the block and a promo person manned the front gate and checked people in. The ground floor was open for lounging. The second floor was for only clients and the third floor was for staff.
Yes. It was huge. But even better than this Disney-esque production and undertaking and the fact that they made an outrigger-load of dough off it, was that it sounded amazing on the air.
Hawaii in the Summer is not a nice hermetically sealed studio. It’s surf and music and laughter and ambient sounds. And that’s what you got from the beach house. “We’re the soundtrack of Summer” dates back to Marconi, but this actually was.
How does this apply to 2020? Because this is going to be The Summer Of Outdoors. The summer when people are going to find every excuse imaginable to be in their gardens or pools or biking or hiking or walking their dogs or grilling in their driveways. So, nice, concise, sterile breaks aren’t going to reflect that.
Right after Extreme did their promotion, Power 96 in Miami and KLUC in Las Vegas did it too. But virtually, ie: it was theater. There was no beach house. But it was presented as if there was one, it sounded like there was one and probably 99% of the listeners never stumbled on the fact that this was very simple, pre-produced and staged audio theater. In Miami they even had a recurring character of a “Brazilian girl” who at least once a day would stick her head in the window and ask, “Have you seen my bikini top?” In Vegas, Cat Thomas curated artist interviews and performance files so that on Friday night, out at their “lake house”, Snoop did an acoustic show from the pool.
Smoke and mirrors are free and they can help you present things that will deliver something that the audience is craving, like, in the case of the Rogers JACK brands in Canada the last weekend in May, a two day music fest. Tom Petty killed it.
So there’s my answer. The Xtreme Radio beach house. What’s yours? Please share at [email protected]