2GB launches radio ad campaign to promote 2UE

And how 2WS tried to fool its competitors

We know that radio advertising works but it’s not usually used to promote other radio stations.

For a couple of weeks now 2GB has been running a schedule of 60 second live reads to promote sister station 2UE and its Talking Lifestyle format.

The ads, enthusiastically read by the likes of Ray Hadley and Chris Smith recommend 2UE as being a station that talks in-depth about the kinds of topics that interest 2GB listeners.

A highly respected content consultant who did not wish to be named told radioinfo that while it may seem a strange strategy in Australia, it is not an uncommon practise in the United States where networks can own several stations in one market and want to keep large chunks of listeners ‘in the fold.’

However, there is one example of an Australian radio station actually buying airtime on its competitor stations to promote itself. In the early 1980’s the relatively new 2WS (now WSFM) was about to launch a new quiz style promotion called Double Your Money that would give listeners the chance to share in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The station’s promotions manager at the time, a 23 year old Max Markson, (more recenlty on twitter, left) came up with the idea to purchase advertising on other stations in the market. 

Knowing that the other stations would be unlikely to accept ads that openly promote a competitor, a scheme was hatched by which the ads would be booked by stealth. The ‘teaser’ campaign only said that Double Your Money was coming but did not mention where it was coming to. In fact, the ads were designed so that radio stations and their listeners would think that Double Your Money was to be a new television quiz show on either 7, 9 or 10.

The slick agency produced material was sent out without the mention of a client. But stations soon twigged to the ruse and refused to play the ads. All except one station, 2KY, now Sky Sports Radio. 

2KY, which famously had John Singleton (now a major shareholder in Macquarie Media) hosting Mornings with his own brand of “mumbleback radio,” decided to run the whole schedule and take the money.

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