Heat Radio drops spot ads with celeb format

LONDON - Emap is set to revolutionise the way radio is sold by relaunching Heat Radio with a celebrity news format and with sponsorship, promotions and ad-funded programming in place of spot advertising.

The national digital station, which is currently an automated jukebox, will be relaunched at the end of September with an "exclusive club" of five clients whose advertising will be worked into the station's content.

Traditional day-part presenting is also being ditched in favour of more flexible editorial-led content aligned to Heat magazine and Heatworld.com.

The station will be predominantly music-based, but will include breaking celebrity news, user-generated content such as listener reports of celebrity sightings and celebrity takeover shows.

Andria Vidler, managing director of Magic 105.4, is leading the relaunch with Heat editor Mark Frith "intrinsically involved".

Speaking to Media Week, Vidler said the "telling and selling model" is changing.

"This is not an anti-spot move, but we are doing something for a few clients in a different way that gives us far more freedom creatively," she said.

Vidler added that, although the station will launch with five advertisers, no official cap on that figure has yet been set.

"We understand the overall impact a marketing director needs to achieve to a very particular audience group and they have that with Heat," she said. "While Magic has a very broad audience, this is very targeted to the mid-20s female Heat reader."

She compared the move to GCap's two-ads-in-a-row policy on Capital 95.8, but believes the exclusivity and flexibility for advertisers on Heat will be more attractive.

"Two-in-a-row was meant to be about giving more impact to the advertiser, but GCap ended up having so many breaks it was disruptive to the station's flow," she said.

"The most successful analogue stations have a brand content of more than 60 advertisers a week, but the difference in being only one of five is massive."

The station will be promoted with both cross-promotion and a marketing campaign. Vidler stressed that this was the company's opportunity to take on the BBC.

"The BBC does a lot of commercial PR within its editorial, but imagine if an advertiser could have content formally woven into the station," she said.

"We're taking on the BBC and taking on radio in a way that's not been achieved before."

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