Media/Publishing 2021

With a declining audience and strong competitors, NZME’s Flava knew something needed to change. By utilising statistics and bringing back old school classics, Flava have since transformed into one of the country’s leading radio stations. 

Switching it up

The challenge

One of NZME’s strategic priorities is to be New Zealand’s leading audio company. The organisation’s radio audience share has been relatively stable but a key opportunity to grow core demographics was identified at the end of Q4 in 2019. At this time, the company commenced a review of the brand portfolio and identified audience gaps within the existing group and overlapping between brands.

NZME brand Flava launched in 2004 as an urban culture brand playing the freshest RnB and hip hop sounds. In 2020, the station had unrivalled competition as a contemporary urban brand and needed a revamp.

Externally, Flava was failing as an urban station and seeing a steady decline in audience numbers and time spent listening every survey period from 2018. Internally, format and audience were overlapping with other NZME brands and needed to shift to a higher demographic to achieve a complementary portfolio and increase revenue.

The Response

Drawing on 90s and early 2000s hip hop culture, Flava was inspired by bright and fresh references. What resulted was the most exciting marketing launch in 2020, including: 

A research-led artist brand campaign; this affirmed our new music format and heroed the key artists we knew our audiences wanted to listen to. 

A new colour palette, but retaining our signature orange and logo.

A 10,000 songs non-stop promotion for launch month, attracting new listeners and encouraging TikTok sampling. 

A series of social videos called ‘The Flava of’, celebrating certain artists, music and eras. 

Breakfast takeovers, a series of New Zealand celebrities taking residency on the breakfast show each week. 

The biggest hurdle was the timing of the launch. The NZME strategy was set at the beginning of 2020 and the decision was made to continue with all changes despite Covid-19 disruptions. 

With the lockdowns and uncertainty surrounding the media industry and advertising spend, the Flava budget was reduced, so the launch had to happen on a shoestring budget of only $15,000. Thus, Flava had to be very targeted, strategic and creative with their launch campaign. 

The station had to reach a new audience, change the perceptions of those who had engaged with the Flava brand previously and communicate a new format. This was no mean feat with a cluttered market, limited consumer attention spans and a real possibility they would only see the marketing once due to the small budget.

The result 

Flava pivoted the brand to do something no other station in New Zealand had dared to do. It celebrated the era by focusing on the music/content of that time. 

The marketing campaign drove significant audience engagement adding nearly 68,900 new listeners in six months, ending 2020 with 10+ CUME of 145,200 – the largest increase of any station in Tamaki Makaurau. 

Category: Media/Publishing

Company: NZME

Marketing Initiative: Flava Old School Hip Hop & RnB

Marketing Partners: Megan Sagar, John Pelasio

Judges’ Comments: “Outstanding results in a formulaic category. Flava did everything right, boldly relaunching the brand and speaking to their audience in their own language.”

Finalists: NZME

This article was first published in the 2021 December/January issue of NZ Marketing magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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