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Wednesday, Aug 27, 2003

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35% of ad value for Mirchi comes from financial brands

Sriram Srinivasan

Mr Prashant Panday

Chennai , Aug. 26

IF you want to sell credit cards, insurance plans and saving schemes, what better time to reach your target group — working men and women — than when they are driving. Banks and financial institutions, with their growing array of retail services, seem to have realised this, and are increasingly advertising on private FM.

Consider this: Thirty-five per cent of the total ad value for Radio Mirchi's Chennai station is contributed by financial brands. The national figure for the Times group's station is a more sober yet healthy 16 per cent, second only to FMCG brands.

This trend is true for the entire private FM segment, admits Mr Prashant Panday, Chief Operating Officer of Radio Mirchi.

Although data is not available, Mr Nishchint Chawla, Chief Operating Officer of Living Media's RED FM, said, "There has been an increase in the number of financial brands advertising on all FM stations, including RED... presently, such advertisers constitute a large percentage of the total advertising pie. However, this figure is constantly on the rise".

And, though "the concentration of such advertisements is generally around primetime, i.e. morning and evening, they (financial brands) advertise round the clock, since they are targeting different listener groups during different parts of the day," added Mr Chawla.

In addition to the commuting audience, advertisers also target housewives (during afternoon hours), college students (late evenings) and the elderly (through, say, a 9-11 p.m. slot). So, when the audience profile is clearly different during different time slots, you know what to advertise when!

With a growing accent on retail services, financial organisations are banking on the increasing popularity of radio, "where the listener's interaction with the medium is almost personal", said AMP Sanmar Assurance Company's Vice-Chairman Mr S.V. Mony. "It is therefore necessary to look at radio as a part of the regular media plan."

Industry observers also say radio is the cheapest and the most effective medium for localised campaigns and promotions. City-specific loan melas, for example, can be promoted effectively through an intense radio campaign involving 50-60 ad spots for a week or two.

AMP Sanmar, which initially used radio for its recruitment ads, "started off with Chennai and Bangalore. We have now chosen radio for markets like Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad... The idea is not to take radio wherever radio is but to look at the effectiveness of radio as a medium in specific markets and, after a considered analysis, decide either for or against (using it)," said Mr Mony.

According to Mr U. Jayraj Rau, Vice-President and Client Services Director, JWT, financial organisations' perceptible fascination for private FM is due to the quickness with which brands could be built. "It's not just a reminder medium." Mr Rau predicts that as the advantages of this medium becomes apparent, more and more financial players will join the fray, though they must guard against over-advertising on the radio.

Mirchi's Mr Panday also believes that private FM, which has already attracted a mix of financial institutions, including the public sector giant SBI and private sector HDFC Bank, has room for more. He bases his belief on an in-house study, which showed that nearly three-fourths of the advertising that financial brands do are "core campaigns", related to brand-building.

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