Monday, February 05, 2007

pickin' and grinnin'

The national Super Bowl commercials get all the glory but it was a local ad that got my attention. A newly signed on radio station bought time on the local CBS affiliate yesterday. Their ad ran a couple of times during both the pregame and postgame shows. I also saw it once either during the game or during halftime. The new radio station borrowed a page from the negative campaign commercials we see before every election. The ads attack the incumbent country music station, which gets huge ratings that seem inexplicable to the casual observer.

In case you don't know, I work for a radio station that would stand to benefit if the top rated country station were knocked down a peg or two. However I'm not so sure that their new competitor will land a punch. The new station is attacking what I think are the big station's strengths, not weaknesses. The TV commercial says:
If you like the same 20 songs over and over, do not listen to 96.7 FM. Merle has more country music and we play it all. If you like jibber jabber, commercials and sports broadcasts, do not listen to 96.7 FM. While they're talking, Merle's playing country music. While they're playing ball, Merle's playing country music. While they're bragging about how great they are, Merle's playing great country music. See for yourself tomorrow morning, listen to 96.7 Merle FM Total Country.
A graphic on the screen showed their red, white and blue logo. Across the top it said something like "we don't eat bugs," a reference to WIVK's frog mascot.

It's actually the jibber jabber and sports broadcasts that make WIVK unique. Anybody can play LCD country music but not anybody can broadcast the Vols, Paul Harvey and the local news. Every time a snowflake or raindrop falls in East Tennessee, listeners call WIVK to report it. The station used to have four billboards along I-40. None of them even mentioned their music. Instead each billboard promoted a different selling point of their station: news, weather, traffic and Volunteer football. They also have one thing that listeners want yet can't be bought: longevity. Maybe Merle's Super Bowl commercial is actually an attempt to goad WIVK into fixing what isn't broken.

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Blogger Gvav1 said...

I worked as a DJ for the frog station 30 years ago as a teenager in college...they were #1 then and probably will own Ktown forever!

Anonymous bean said...

that's good analysis, frank. i enjoy the blog every day.

Blogger Polly said...

I find that there's something comforting about listening to the same station every morning. It's like putting on the worn out robe and slippers... gives me the warm fuzzies:)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is quite surprising that you would think advertising against a competitor would be odd. Yes, I understand that this new station is going after WIVKs attributes, but so what. Merle FM does not have D.J's or talk and they do not have weather or the UT game. They are simply saying if you want to hear that, than go to the WIVK station. What I understand is that Merle is playing TOTAL Country. And WOW it is about time country music does not have a shelf life in this city.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have some friends that live in Nashville, and they came to visit last month. They saw the billboards and tuned in. We listened to the station their entire visit and they loved it. I am not a huge country music fan, but the difference in hearing the same songs over and over or hearing country music from my childhood, that I still know the words to, mixed in with todays hits was alot of fun.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think BOO HOO HOO. Who cares. You never see a car dealer in Knoxville mad at another car dealer because they say they have the best prices and will beat their competitor. You never see Hardees ticked off at Subway because they made said their burgers are full of saturated fat. Advertising is Avertising...Business is Business. So the ever strong WIVK might have to work a little harder and maybe their listeners will remember that there are 1000's of other country songs by fantastic world known artist that are not being played on the station. That is why they are the #1 Country Hit Station. Merle is not, they are the #1 Total Country music station. There are enough ears for everyone and Merle stood out because through their advertising they showcased what makes them different. It is simply the fundimentals of advertising.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree... Business is business. It's called competition and you see it EVERYDAY in advertising. I have a degree in marketing and have been working in the marketing field for years and I think this campaign is BRILLIANT.

Blogger dan said...

I am country listener here in Knoxville and Merle just exactly attacked WIVK weaknesses which are dj jabber, no variety, endless ads, only new hits, news and sports instead of country music. I have long considered WIVK the worst country station I have ever listned to and Merle now must be about the best mix I have ever heard.
A lot of Merle's ads against WIVK are very funny because they are so true like the one that says that they get more country done before breakfast than what the others play all day.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wivk is number one, and always will be. when there's an emergency, which station do the listeners turn to? did you see merle fm or whatever it's called downtown welcoming the lady vols and carrying their homecoming live? do you see merle putting on concerts, having in-studio guests, out in the community, etc..? they can't even get sponsors for goodness sakes. does merle have over 10 deejays, six news anchors, and access to a sports staff that rivals that of any other radio group in the south? no they don't. and unless merle develops/creates a revamped imgaing, focusing on its positives (classic country without talk) instead of bashing its competitor, then the station will never succeed.

sorry for my rant. anyhow, frank, i have listened to you in knoxville since the earlier days on woki. over the past couple of years, you have added an interesting perspective to the morning show on 102.1. keep up the good work.


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