Monday, 1 September 2008

"Absolute on Power Drive"

When you read the dictionary definition of the word 'absolute' you realise it's a pretty good word, as words go. It feels like a word you can rely on... a word you can trust... this word could be your friend. I find myself using the word quite a lot in my everyday speech. "Did you hear that breakfast show on your rival station this morning? It was an absolute disaster!!” Or... "Do you like my idea for a new morning show benchmark? I think it's absolute genius!" Things like that.

It also happens to be the new name for Virgin Radio as revealed to me this evening on an exciting, pan-European, satellite link-up live from London, from Clive Dickens, the head programming and operations honcho. (OK - he called my mobile).

I've had a little while to think about it while chomping away at my dinner, and here's the thing. They'll be a lot written about this over the next few weeks by an array of media commentators, brand experts, radio consultants and other interested parties. Some will like it. Some won't.

Some will say it's unoriginal or egotistical to name the consumer facing brand after the name of the company that will run the station. (For those who don't know, Absolute Radio is the name of the management company / owners / consultants that also run Jack FM in the UK / own FM 107.9 in Oxford etc) but I genuinely believe that if they knew they were going to call the thing 'Absolute' from day 1, they wouldn't have hired super-duper creative London agency Albion to help them develop the brand. And guess what... the listeners have never heard of a company called Absolute Radio, so there!! As far as listeners go, this will be a brand new brand.

So, tomorrow morning at 7:45am, the 'conversation' will begin where the current listeners to Virgin Radio will be introduced to their "new best-friend-word"... Absolute.

Like any new brand, I'm sure it will take a small while to get used to it. I remember when this mobile phone company in the 90's decided to name their company after a citrus fruit. And then this other mobile phone company in 2001 decided to name their brand after the vital ingredient in 'air'. Ahh... whatever happened to 'Lemon' and 'N2'.

The point is, after we got used to them, they just became another brand and we were de-sensitised to their 'newness' and they entered into our everyday vernacular. I'm sure the same will happen to 'Absolute'. (I'm just learning to say Bauer instead of EMAP mind you.)

Apparently, in their 'game for a name' that they just played, they wanted a real word (unlike Ocado or Skype), a word that could cross global boundaries (like Big or Fun), a single word (but not 'BigFun' as that would remind me of the band!), and something more importantly that could trademarked. Developing value in the name of your brand is essential in today's brand-ridden world. If you haven't got a strong, cross platform brand, you have nothing.

So, in 12 months time, we'll have forgotten all the fuss and will no doubt be enjoying shows called things like Absolute 80's and Absolute Classic Rock... and listening to the Absolute Weather. "It's absolutely pissing down with rain...” OK - we get the idea Nik.

Comedian Jasper Carrott once said "I'm amazed at radio DJ's these days. I'm firmly convinced that AM on my radio stand for Absolute Moron. I will not begin to tell you what FM stand for!" I'm certain that 'Absolute Radio' will deliver a fresh approach to radio not seen for quite some time in the UK, and the definitions of the word that mean "free from restriction or limitations" and "not comparative" are good omens that will have Jasper re-writing that particular routine. And without further ado, this re-branding gives me a great excuse to play this!!

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