Saturday, November 23, 2013

Do You Own A "Tag" Or A "Position?"

Like Randy Lane (writing in Radio Ink), I was also nodding my head at Geoffrey James' Inc Magazine article, "Forget Your Tag Line. It's Obsolete:"
Jingles started in the early days of commercial radio and continued to be popular as a branding technique through first decades of commercial television.  Jingle-writing was big business; pop star Barry Manilow famously got his start as a jingle-smith.  Today, though, jingles have almost disappeared.  That's partly because broadcast ads, which used to be 60 seconds long are now much shorter (often 15 seconds or even 5 seconds long) leaving less time for a jingle. But there's another, more cogent reason for the disappearance of the jingle: they don't work any more.  At best, they sound like bad imitations of popular songs; at worst, they sound corny and retro. The same thing is happening with the corporate tag line. Such tag lines are intended to encapsulate and clarify the essence of a brand proposition as with Apple's "Think Different" or NBC's "Must See TV." The problem with tag lines, though, is that they tend to sound like generic corporate speak. For example, Sony's recently launched "Make.Believe" tag line is supposed to inspirational, but could describe any company.

If you buy that, as I do, it's hard to disagree with Lane too:
Requiring air talents to bark out tag lines every time they open their mouth is wasting precious time. Time that could be better spent delivering a hook headline to instantly engage the audience. You don’t want to waste even a nanosecond when the average attention span is down to nine seconds, according to one study.  Saying “The Best Mix of the ‘80s, ‘90s and Now” first, every talk break, will be rattled off ineffectively at best by most air personalities. Tag lines have become meaningless commercial noise to most listeners. We have moderated many focus groups and have been surprised to find that the majority of respondents could not recall a radio station slogan even though it had been pounded for years every break.

That's why when I hear a personality mechanically saying the same words with the same inflection every time they open their microphone, I first attempt to get them to vary that autopilot inflection pattern.  If they have become so habitual in their delivery, I echo Lane's advice and tell them to just stop it and brand the interesting, informative, entertaining content they prepared, since that's their most obvious definable difference as a "voice on the radio" anyway.

It you don't have lots of songs I really love which are connected by engaging things I care about to say, all the tagging won't work anyway, even if it is delivered beautifully.

Meanwhile, just because "tag" self-marketing doesn't work anymore does not mean that you can win without a believable "position" in the mind of the listener.

And, the art today is subtly imprinting your unique, unduplicated position without resorting to techniques which no longer work to positively brand, such as hard sell and irritating in-your-face repetition (which is still one of the two ways we remember things, but they may just remember how repulsive you are if you over-use it)?

Rees and Trout's four decade old rules (click the link for a refresher course) have not lost their impact when done creatively and believably.

7Up is still the uncola.  Avis may actually be #1 today, but in our minds they still "Try Harder" because they are #2.

Compared to the campaigns highlighted for their ongoing success from back when Jack and Al's book first was published 26 formats and editions ago, "Best and Most Country," "Continuous Country Favorites" and "New Country And The Legends," given the excellent vantage point of history, probably never were "positions" embraced by listeners in the first place. 

1 comment:

Mike McGuire said...

Couldn't agree more. The "positioning statement" moves us further away from the organic nature radio is taking... save it for your imaging, or better yet, the 80's.