|Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):||August 1, 2011 - December 31, 2012|
|Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: ||August 18, 2011|
|Base Period as a Benchmark: ||August 2010|
With the arrival of the new PPM survey method, it became clear that Quebec radio station RockDétente had experienced a drastic decline in its audience by the fall of 2008 compared to its main competitor, Rythme FM. Despite several changes in the musical content to induce vitality, and several attempts to innovate through the introduction of new personalities and change in the musical programming, RockDétente was never able to meet or even make up the difference against its main competitor. The difference in audience share stood at 11 points, which is huge for a radio station. RockDétente, which used to be perceived as the number one station targeting women aged 25-54, was now losing its connection with its core audience, the situation was worst in the greater Montreal metropolitain, while other markets across the the province did not experienced that drastic drop in share.
Each offensive attempted by RockDétente—changing the musical catalogue, innovative direct marketing initiatives, new personalities-to revitalize the station—provided few positive results and, in fact, seemed only to benefit the direct competitor.
In 2010, extensive consultation and two major studies by Crop and Coleman confirmed that RockDétente had an exceptional level of brand awareness—close to perfection at 98% in Québec—but that the brand lacked vitality. The name “RockDétente” was associated with a very mellow and aging radio network, while the direct competitor’s Rhytme FM breathes youth and dynamism. In other words, Rythme FM was the radio station today's woman is connected to, while RockDétente is our mother’s radio. Many negative attributes were associated with its name, including “Auntie Rock Radio.” This situation made it difficult to gain any audience with the primary target—women 35-44 years old, with a secondary audience of adults 25-54.
The brand itself had to change completely—it was not only a matter of the musical content, but the package itself that needed to be thoroughly reviewed through a total rebranding strategy.
With a limited budget for such a big ambition of revitalizing a brand that doesn’t have much visual stimuli, how could we re-invigorate RockDétente in the minds, ears and eyes of consumers? How would we reposition RockDétente, which has such a strong legacy, to a different and unique proposition and make the radio station a compelling and irrefutable daily “rendezvous” for women?
In the face of stiff competition from Rythme fm, we needed to attract a significant numbers of new listeners while not losing our 2.9 million active listeners.
A number of quantifiable core business objectives were identified, including:
Maintain our audience across the province and gain 5 points in audience in the Montreal market specifically.
Attract an incremental 50,000 listeners after a year of activity, especially in Montreal, where we needed to shake the market dynamic specifically.
Although we had an increase in our marketing budget, our annual media budget was limited with this huge task in front of us: Our budget was at $ 746,000 to do an effective brand launch with very little time to succeed.
$500,000 - $1 million
Province of Quebec in eight different markets; Québec City, Gatineau, Rimouski, Drummondville, Mauricie, Saguenay, Sherbrooke and the greater Montreal region. The radio network has 9 local stations, one small market AMQUI is not evaluated by syndicated PPM studies. Therefore for the purpose of this case, we will mention 8 markets.
We started off by doing an extensive consultation among 8,000 active radio listeners in June 2010. The purpose was to draw a clear picture of the ideal radio for a woman aged 35-44—women who, in high heels or sneakers, with a martini or a beer in hand, are not perfect but proud of themselves—and build the programming and the content upon their tastes, needs and motivations. Those needs and motivations were the key drivers for the development of the new brand values.
Inspiration: Women dream for a better world!
Communication: Women need to exchange and communicate with others
Vitality: Women like to be seen as responsible and mature people, yet they want to feel audacious sometimes
Authenticity: Women appreciate sincere and authentic personalities that represent their values
With those learnings, we realized that we need to reposition the overall branding of the radio and would require clever creative with a single focused message rooted in a compelling truth.
Montreal agency Bleublancrouge stepped in and organized a deep-dive session that brought together representatives from the station’s top management (i.e. those responsible for radio content and programs, marketing managers, promotional managers and even an anchorman/anchorwoman). It was discovered that the new radio station needed to become the “BFF”—best friend forever—of typical women aged 35-44
The positioning was defined as the following: The station will be a “resort” anchored in the daily lives of women 35-44 years old, and the musical content will be varied, engaging and stimulating. This needs to be delivered by an authentic and accessible personality and create a positive and dynamic environment.
Based on these insights and the strategic positioning, we came up with a simple brand name: ROUGE (red) fm. Why this name? Because red is the ultimate colour of passion, love and vitality. The colour itself symbolizes a pure emotion. It is a word that can easily be transposed in radio and it communicates a very bold and unique universe. The name itself became the lifeblood of the brand and the driving force behind making the radio network more compelling and relevant.
No matter how the brand was going to be communicated, it would always be clear that Rouge fm was the place with all the music that women likes, in one colour.
To drive interest and not lose our active listeners, the change needed to be well orchestrated and proceed with extreme caution. The direction taken was unique and original: the brand change would occur in a single day across all stations in the province with the launch of a breakthrough communications campaign.
The campaign needed to make a statement, attract attention with its new “colour” direction, and give the audience a reason to listen to the station.
Although the brand change was announced publicly for a couple of months, the upper management of Rouge fm chose to maintain the confidentiality of the new name until the very end. Thus, the reveal was done across the stations simultaneously to trigger a major blitz. The marketing department and advertising agency had a short two months to bring Rouge fm to life in a variety of media, including:
Branding and logo
All media were deployed to create a momentum during two different phases of the launch.
The reveal – through the blitz
The seduction – through the PR event and mass campaign with Television
Since our media investment budget was limited we needed to make sure that all of our dollars had an impact to reach our target. In the past, we used to dominate through an outdoor presence with annual budget of $ 558,000. As you can refer with our media investment re-allocation, we needed to think differently to promote the new brand, so we split the amount invested in outdoor to add another media vehicle into the mix. We only had an increase of 34% of media investment so our media was carefully selected to promote visually and effectively the brand name in a 6-weeks period.
The creative approach was simple and effective, we needed to show our new color and it has to be bold and effective.
Branding and logo
The unveiling of Rouge fm was performed simultaneously on air, online and on the ground at 4:00 p.m. on August 18, 2011. At this precise moment, all Rouge fm stations across the province revealed the new image, with new sounds, flags, banners and signage on all buildings, as well as promotional vehicles and materials.
Outdoor: The same strategy and creative executions was taken for the outdoor presence
Television: After 4-weeks of outdoor presence, we launched 2X 30-seconds TV commercials: one promoting the lunch hours and the other the “back-to-home” schedule: a woman at work during lunch is tuning-in the Rouge website and listening to the different songs while she is realizing that her co-worker is one of the station’s anchorman : Joel Legendre. On the second execution, the same woman is sitting in her car, just home from work, tuning the radio when suddenly the world turns RED and we start seeing video clips of popular songs from Pink, Sting, Cyndi Lauper and the Black Eyed Peas. At the end, Marina Orsini, the famous Quebec actress and anchorwoman of Rouge fm, is sitting next to the woman enjoying the music as well.
To ensure a maximum impact in the media and press, a big launch event was held at the Bell Centre on Monday, August 22. The event took the form of a mega-show with Ima (singer), Sylvain Cossette (singer) and the well-known Canadian group Glass Tiger. More than 5,000 listeners were invited through a contest to attend the event. Business and media representatives were also invited to take part in the celebration.
As the main vehicle to communicate the brand expression, a musical anthem was created specifically for Rouge fm. To highlight the brand endorsement by the artistic community, the songwriter Félix Gray offered and wrote an exclusive song. The song was recorded in September 2011 by a group of local artists, including Mario Pelchat, Roch Voisine and Ginette Reno. The song became the anthem of the station—it was part of the regular catalogue during Fall 2011 and ranked in the top 10 during 4 consecutive weeks.
The website has been completely revisited and redesigned to the new color. Each regional station has their owned personalized and local content. The site is a visual mirror of the brand on air, A webTV was introduced to promote and showcase the different performance and interviews with personalities, singers, authors.
To ensure a rapid brand adoption within the marketing-communication industry a complete kit to promote the station was developed to promote the new programming and station.
As the first major push for the new brand, the decision to launch Rouge fm with a strong television and outdoor campaign made perfect sense but we had to do this with a small increase in the overall media investment. The immediate priority was to ensure that our audience immediately associated the new colour with the brand; we decided to elect the outdoor presence with this main task in mind, Television was chosen to promote the new universe and invite consumers to listen Rouge fm.
All tactics were deployed to create a momentum during two different phases of the launch.
The reveal – through the blitz
The seduction – through the PR event and mass campaign with Television
Since our media investment budget was limited we needed to make sure that all of our dollars had an impact to reach our target. In the past, we used to dominate through an outdoor presence with annual budget of $ 558,000. As you can refer with our media investment allocation, we needed to think differently to promote the new brand, Rock Détente used to dominate with outdoor presence to announce the new season, for launching Rouge fm, we needed to split the amount invested in this media to add another media vehicle into the mix. We only had an increase of 34% of media investment so our media was carefully selected to promote visually and effectively the brand name in a 6-weeks period.
We were conscious that changing the habits for listening an adult contemporary radio network such as RockDétente/Rouge fm take time. So our expectations were conservative, but the results went above and beyond what we thought was possible.
We knew that it was essential to attract new listeners, and based on the market condition we knew that the urban centres—such as Montreal—were most important. The following season after the launch, we saw significant increase in market share in 5 of the 8 markets. After a full year of activity, all major markets saw their share increase significantly.
Our original objective to increase in 5 points of market share in the Montreal market – the most competitive market in the province was exceeded. The market share increased by 5.5 points in just 3 seasons. The Quebec market surpassed this goal by increasing its share by 5.8 points. The long-term decline turned around, as shown in the following table:
(*) not available
The growth is phenomenal in the radio industry, with just one season of Rouge fm’ activities 80,000 new listeners were gained. If we’re adding up the two-seasons into the mix, 78,000 were also attracted, the station gained in total 178,000 of new listeners in one-year.
(all numbers are in thousands)
Rouge fm grew in a very flat category where two competing brands (RockDétente and Rythme fm) had almost the same percentage of market share with the same musical programming with different on-air hosts. It is clear that the branding change and the advertising campaign had to be a major event to attract that number of new listeners.
Since the musical content hasn’t changed from 2010 to 2011, there was no other outside stimulus in the marketing mix compared to the prior year.
Media spending was at $558 in 2010 – and $746 in 2011 – which resulted into an increase of 34% in overall spending to launch the brand in Television – where the usual media spend in this category is close to 800K all inclusive. Not much when you think about the overall purpose: Changing the name of one of the biggest radio network in the Quebec province.
No change in the programming. was made, no new stations were added into the mix.
Unusual Promotional Activity:
From a communication standpoint, there were additional activities—but mostly to retain the existing listeners, such as the event at the Bell Centre. The communication plan and media mix didn't changed much from the previous year/season - we simply add television into the mix for a 4-weeks period in selecteive Astral Network
Other Potential Causes:
Almost all hosts decided to stay at the new station, with a change in name in their time slot (morning, back to work, weekend). Very little change in the programming itself was done. The musical content was more vibrant and dynamic and in-sync with women’s desires, needs and motivations, this change was done a-year before the brand change.
Other potential causes
None that we know of.