Give It Some Heart

As has been discussed elsewhere, Global Radio is about to begin the Heartification process to convert Radio Broadland, SGR Ipswich, SGR Colchester, Hereward, Chiltern Bedford, Chiltern Dunstable and Northants 96 to Heart (insert frequency).

It’s an interesting challenge. Dumping 20 years of heritage is brave, but the hope is that a unified brand will help get more listeners and make more money. The new Hearts will have local Breakfast, Drivetime shows and Weekend mid-morning and the rest will be networked with Heart 106.2 in London, which means the stations get new presenters like Toby Anstis (mid-morning), Matt Wilkinson (evenings) and Simon Beale (late nights).

The re-brand is getting some heavyweight TV support. Indeed, the first stations have been chosen because they’re in a TV region – Anglia. The ad is this one…

I think it’s interesting that the main two stars are Jason Donavan (the Sunday evening show presenter) and Jamie Theakston (who I don’t think will even be on any of the new stations). I imagine the people on the sofa are the local presenters from each station – which I guess is one way to get around that delicate problem of who to show. I note that the liner is ‘your brand new radio station’ and that the end credit is ‘new to Anglia’.

I think one of the difficulties with the new campaign is that it never mentions the frequencies of the stations that are becoming Heart. I think it’s actually easy to dismiss the ad as thinking it’s for that, there Heart radio station in London rather than my local station that used to be Northants.

TV’s one aspect of the rebrand, i’ll try and write another post on some of the other aspects soon.

5 thoughts on “Give It Some Heart”

  1. I think it’s poor, for the reasons you mention, and others:

    (I don’t think the lack of frequency is a big problem, actually, seeing as it’s going to be in half a dozen places on the dial in some spots!)

    But why should I listen? OK, it’s “new”, and Jamie Theakston’s on it, and Jason Donovan, and some other bloke who I can’t quite place but didn’t he used to be on kids TV a decade or more ago? As you say, though, Jamie Theakston’s not even on in “Anglia”, and Jason Donovan’s on for three hours a week. (Still, I suppose Radio 2 did OK when it was selling itself as the home of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross).

    Anyway, where is “Anglia”? Milton Keynes isn’t in “Anglia” It’s even not a place: it’s a redundant TV company!

    My major problem, though: previous Heart campaigns were some of the first in UK radio to be focussed on the benefits to the target audience, rather than the specific elements of the radio station. So, not a big poster of the morning jock holding an alarm clock, but a group of photogenic friends sharing a drink and the line “The Right Song, Right Now.”

    On TV, that translated into some great ads like the woman washing her car whilst listening to the station and washing the paint off because she’s having such a great time; the Hula girl; and the windsock ones – all creative expressions of the message “feeling good”, and all starting from the point of view of the listener, rather than lots of shots of microphones and headphones.

    It seems to me that they felt that they needed – in some shorthand way – to explain, or at least allude to, the change from the heritage brands to Heart, but have singularly failed to do so. (The sofa shot is daft – unless, I suppose, they are perhaps backing it up with local press and posters with the local breakfast presenters with Jamie Theakston). The message is confused to me, and I am watching all this with anorak and marketing industry interest!

    The first crucial decison they have flunked – is this a new station (like it says on this ad), or a new name for your favourite station, like it says on the heritage websites?

  2. My first thoughts, like yours, were noticing the lack of frequencies, and the talk of it being a ‘brand new radio station’ which jarred a bit. HOWEVER… Consider this. Most of those stations have, what, a 25% reach? meaning that 75% of people very rarely (if ever) listen to their local heritage station that is losing it’s name… So as much as we ‘radio people’ would hate to think it, those 75% of people probably wouldn’t notice that ‘Northants’ or ‘Chiltern’ had disappeared, or if they did, probably wouldn’t care much.

    So by targetting it as a ‘brand new station’ the aim is to bring in those new people, isn’t it? Those that already listen are aware of the changes because of all the on-air mentions. (“Heart is coming” anyone?) And because the old heritage names have been around for a while most of those people who don’t listen will have built up a (probably false) impression of what the station is about: “I don’t listen to Horizon because I can’t stand that guy in the morning” for example, even if ‘that guy’ left years ago, or “I don’t listen to Chiltern because it plays awful music”, even though the playlist has changed beyond recognition since they last listened..

    But a ‘brand new’ station has NONE of that stigma attached – there’s no reason NOT to listen. It’s interesting that the advert makes NO mention of what type of music is/will be played either – the emphasis is wholly on the ‘fun’ aspect of it. So will listeners tune in to see what all the fuss is about? Guess we’ll have to wait and see…

  3. The difference between the Absolute name change and this one was that Absolute could easily explain the name change to their listeners: “We pay to use the Virgin brand, we don’t think it is worth it and it also stops us doing some other stuff we’d like to do.” It’s a lot less clear with the Heart changes.

    I can’t help but wonder whether the Global team have spoken to any of their GWR colleagues involved in the B97/Chiltern fiasco of the late 90s. My only knowledge is that of a relatively interested outsider (and resident of Bedford); but it sort of went like this: When GWR took over the Chiltern Group in 1995(?) they decided to change the name of Chiltern Radio East/Bedford to B97. On paper it made a lot of sense: Bedford is nowhere near the Chilterns, they were putting more live presentation in Bedford and therefore didn’t need a single name across two stations, it would mean it’d be easier to distinguish the stations on RAJAR (there is a significant amount of crossover of the TX areas). To help ease the transistion they started branding it “B97, Chiltern FM”; planning to drop the Chiltern bit eventually.

    The problem was that no-one got it. Despite what Alex says, everyone knows the station is called Chiltern. Even my mum, who never listened to Chiltern (save for the odd time I had it on doing the washing up) knew it was Chiltern. They ran a promotion where you had to carry around something with B97 in it and if you got stopped on the street they’d give you cash. The problem was listeners who got stopped said “Yer, they said on Chiltern I had to carry around this B97 thing.”

    Eventually the whole B97 idea was dropped and the station went back to being known as Chiltern.

    Maybe that was 12 years ago and the radio landscape was different – but remember (much to my chagrin) Chiltern Radio is still the *only* commercial station serving Bedford; this is not London where there are a mix of formats and people aren’t that surprised when a new station appears on the market.

    I hope it works, as I’ve got friends involved and I really want a vibrant commercial radio sector. And I also don’t want to be a luddite. But no-one I’ve spoken to has yet outweighed the disadvantages of confusing listeners/local advertisers/losing heritage status for appeasing London-based advertising agencies and meaning that the presenter can say Heart.

    PS. Bring back The Hot FM – that was how you did successful networking!

  4. I have already seen this Why ?

    wellis the SAME advert used in London so with the exception of the logo at the end its very cost effective to use the same ad over and over and the way things are going who know’s you might end up with Mr Theakston doing the breakfast show with a few opt out points for traffic and news like LBC already does

  5. Alex makes a good point, for those in the TSA for whom the old names had bad connotations a new station, with a new name, new RDS etc could work. But if you liked the old station saying it’s become a new station is a kick in the teeth. It’s not a case of ‘we’re making the station you love better’ but ‘you’ve been listening to the wrong station, it was rubbish. Here, have a new a one’

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