Absolute's fresh approach augurs well in search for listeners

The launch of Absolute in the place of Virgin Radio will provide a good example of how the power of a media brand interplays with the power of content.

Absolute DJ Tim Shaw
Absolute DJ Tim Shaw

Station: Absolute radio
What's happened?: Rebranded from Virgin Radio
Owner: TIML Golden Square.

I have to be honest - I see this as akin to Jif's rebrand to Cif all those years ago, with some innovative brand extension chucked in for good measure.

If we are to believe what the guys at TIML Golden Square - the station's new owners - tell us, the old Virgin Radio values are going to be developed and enhanced, through Absolute, and not changed fundamentally. Indeed, according to the marketing information I received, "It's the same great radio station. Just set free". My ears this week tell me this is true.

So what does this freedom look (and sound) like?

Well, for starters, it looks like a media brand that can own every point of contact with audience. Virgin Radio, for example, could not have created its own event as its deal to license the Virgin brand from Richard Branson would not have allowed it to do so.

But now, Absolute radio can do this. Freedom also looks like listeners being able to actively take part in playlist meetings and the playlist being expanded to a degree that, if you are listening during work hours, you should not hear the same song twice.

If you look at recent scheduling at Absolute, its new approach also indicates fresh ideas - whole albums played in one go, regular live concerts and a full day from Abbey Road studios.

So Absolute should have no problems in retaining listeners. The challenge will be acquiring new ones - the household familiarity of the Virgin Radio name would inevitably have acted as a short cut for new listeners when considering their options.

So it is going to be crucial that the Absolute brand is built from zero to hero in a very short space of time.

What's good?
Surprising music.

What could be better?
Bit unfair - but audience familiarity with the new name.

Would I book my clients into this?

Matthew Landeman, board director, Carat.

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