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Are You Famous?

February 9, 2023

I am a huge fan of Bob Hoffman, aka The Ad Contrarian. He is a former advertising executive who is not afraid to take his former industry to task. He also has a sharp insight into how advertising should work.

His most recent email contained an interesting thought…

“…we should ask ourselves what the single outcome of advertising is that is most likely to result in business success? I believe the answer is obvious. Fame.” (Bob Hoffman, “Some Final Thoughts, Part 2,” 1/29/23)

All of the world’s hugely successful brands have one common characteristic: They are famous. A brand that is famous has enormous advantages over its competitors that are not famous.

He goes on to say that fame, by itself, does not guarantee success. There are many factors involved, and that fame is best achieved through advertising. That precision one-to-one marketing may have an impact on immediate sales, but it is not the route for businesses that want to create category-leading brands.

The immediate pivot here is this – advertising on the radio can make you famous. Radio is a broad reach medium. So, why is a programming guy writing about this?

Because your over-the-air, traditional, terrestrial, old-school radio signal is the best way to make your brand famous. Regardless of the size of your cume, you have the opportunity – every single stinkin’ minute – to make a positive, lasting impression.

Why is it that some stations are better equipped to handle the Nielsen roller coaster ride than others? Why do some stations consistently get heard by more meters than others do? Because they are famous. It could be longevity. It could be a huge, lynchpin personality. It could be a superior entertainment product. Whatever the reasons, these stations perform at a high rate in survey after survey. It seems that for every meter keeper or household they lose, they are able to pick up the slack with new additions to the panel.

There was a time when just being on the radio – or closely associated with it – granted a certain level of celebrity status. Sadly, that status is no longer granted automatically.

Unless, of course, you are famous.

Knowing who your audience is, where they are, and how much they listen are important data points. They will help you chart the course for your station and cluster. But fame is much more ethereal (not to mention fleeting). We can moan about the lack of marketing dollars available to promote your product; however, that transmitter is a powerful tool. We use it to make a lot of money. We can also use it to create the buzz, the word-of-mouth, that can make us famous.

-Steve Allan, Programming Research Consultant