Promotions is often the Art of being relevant, topical and in-the-moment. Mancow blocking the Bay Bridge? It would have just been a mean-spirited prank if it hadn’t occurred the day after Bill Clinton fouled up air traffic west of the Mississippi when he got his hair cut while sitting on Air Force One at LAX.
Between Chases Calendar of Events and social media, it’s pretty easy to gauge what’s trending and what kind of stupid holiday like “Talk Like A Pirate Day” might be fodder for doing something with it.
And sometimes you don’t even need matrices and algorithms to know that there’s an opportunity, like, when, everyone in town is losing their minds about your team making it to the playoffs. That’s a given. You would think.
First, you need to acknowledge the Hard Truth that no one can tell you what you did for contesting last week. But come to the Twin Cities, find someone born after about 1972 and just say “Let’s play word association, okay? Tom Bernard and the 1987 World Series…” and a large percentage of them will without pause say “The light happy music!”
Yup. As it became clear in September that the Twins, who had finished dead last the previous season might actually GO TO THE PLAYOFFS (typed in caps because it was so freaking implausible), Tom Bernard at KQRS started every morning’s report of a Twins win with a clip of 1950’s sitcom music. That kind of music that played whenever everything was right in the world and the main character was doing fine.
It’s impossible to explain how big this took off but when the Cardinals sent their first player to the plate in Game One, it played on the speakers in the Metrodome and 55,000 people lost their collective shit. Al Michaels paused and said, “I don’t know what that was but I’m apparently the only person who doesn’t.”
Bernard also brought in a voodoo priestess and they put hexes on the opponents complete with authentic Haitian voodoo music to accompany the ceremony.
He expertly wove himself into the fabric of the moment and forever became linked with the Twins 1st World Series victory. To my station’s credit, we very creatively got 32 pairs of tickets to the Series and gave them away which caused a minor disruption in phone service in Minnesota, Iowa and part of the Dakotas.
A few years ago one of the stations in Chicago “missed” the Black Hawks when they were in the Stanley Cup and no one lost their jobs. It’s a headshaker.
Granted it would have been fun to get a coven of witches to do a 72 hour marathon of satanic curses on the other team, or marry two people at center ice (tonsil hockey), or divorce a couple of were for opposing teams just for the series, or pull a banner over downtown that would get everyone to honk their horns in beat to a rally song on the radio, or pretty much anything that would be visual and could get on TV. But they did zip. Nothing. No imaging. No themed contests. No adjusting of their graphics on the site. Nothing.
Personally, I’ve always liked meeting the team at the airport when they return from a victory. There’s usually a charter terminal where they come in at about 1 am and getting on the air and inviting everyone to join you there is pretty simple. In fact, with the Rangers in the World Series, it got 106.1 Kiss-FM a color photo on the front page of the Dallas paper.
Or create a song like Wild 94.1 in Tampa did and make a video out of it.
Or take a song that Spence did at KLUC in Las Vegas and make it a rally theme for St. Louis, like Entercom just did.
They of course led into that by dropping format and playing “Gloria” by Laura Branigan for 24 hours. (For some reason this was the song that the Blues glommed onto starting in January.) When was the last time your station did something that got TV coverage? Well, Y-98 got three news stories, ESPN and print…which isn’t bad for a promotion that cost nothing.
If we’re going to go sideways for a day because it’s Macaroni And Cheese Day, it would kind of seem like a no-brainer to climb all over the biggest positive news story in the market, don’tcha think?