Moments of connection
As consumers were turning to the radio for much of their information during lockdown, McCrostie explained how Global shifted its programming strategy and tone to include more news bulletins and other specialist phone-in segments. These included phone ins with Dr Alex from Love Island, in which he advised callers about their symptoms. While Dr Raj offered parents advice about how to talk to their children about the virus.
Every part of the organisation’s programming and advertising, McCrostie explained, was “all responding to the needs of the community.”
Alongside the importance of conveying vital information, McCrostie believes in audio’s power to entertain and to offer, “comforting moments of distraction.” She cautions against seeing the role as one of reassurance however and instead says it is essential that brands find the right tone. Because, she adds, “it’s really important to carefully judge and mirror and reflect what consumers want and what community needs.”
“[As] our positivity and resilience is a bit dented..a little bit of distraction and entertainment can go a long way for people seeking comfort,” she explains. This included a rewritten version of the Kaiser Chiefs song, with the new lyrics ‘oh my god I can’t believe, I’ve never spent this much time at home’, which was recorded by the band’s lead singer and shared on social media. While RadioX and Barclaycard successfully brought live music back by streaming a gig from the band Nothing But Thieves to experience-starved consumers.
These events provide the moments of connection that consumers have been so keenly missing and so clearly craving. “This has been radio’s greatest strength throughout the crisis,” explains McCrostie, “its ability to connect with communities.”
New opportunities for brands
McCrostie explained how brand behaviour has shifted in the second stage of lockdown. While the first lockdown was focused on delivering information, the second has been more focused on a need to help out in one way or another.
“The tone, which is always hard to read,” says McCrostie, “has moved from a state of how are we going to cope, to how we are going to cope. It’s about being together in our communities.” She believes this shift has been reflected most acutely in much of this year’s Christmas advertising.
In the first 100 days of the first lockdown, Global saw over 25 new brands coming onto air and advertising, demonstrating just how keenly audio’s reach was felt. “The fact that people’s behaviours and they’re routines are having to change, this is providing new opportunities for brands,” says McCrostie. Whether that’s working from home or people leaning towards more treat moments, brands are finding new instances of connection.
McCrostie pointed to its award winning work for the charity Versus Arthritis, a campaign which was in the works before the pandemic hit. As the country shut down, McCrostie explains that her team, “just had to go into overdrive.” Home studios were established, garages and cupboards sound proofed simply because, says McCrostie, “there was such a demand from advertisers to get their messages out to consumers in a speedy and agile way in a medium which radio could afford.”
Over 190 different pieces of audio content were delivered but it's the campaign’s results that McCrostie is most proud of. There was a 40% recall amongst radio audiences with 79% of them now saying they would now take some form of action about arthritis. “This work helps supporters of Versus Arthritis have the conversations they needed to have,” she adds.