With the help of a local radio station, the Fox affiliate’s You Can Sing sales promotion yields $93,000 in revenue and creates what could turn into an annual happening.
“This is not an American Idol promotion!” insists Steve Cummings, director of sales at Cox’s KRXI Reno, Nev., a Fox affiliate. “We did not refer to it that way at any time,” he says, sounding like a man with better things to do than to bicker with Rupert Murdoch’s lawyers.
Besides, he’s right. Cummings’s sales team deserves sole credit for So You Think You Can Sing!—an original sales promotion/amateur talent contest that it conceived, named, and built into a local sensation in its own right. While not connected to American Idol, the KRXI contest undoubtedly reinforced Idol’s popularity. The local contest ran this year during February sweeps, timed to counter competition from the Winter Olympics.
Now anyone who’s been around TV promotion knows that an on-air contest means extra work, and that a creative competition is way tougher than a simple prize drawing. You have to assemble resources to handle registration, subjectively judge entries and publicize the winners. You’ve got to write rules that are easy to understand and satisfy both the contestants and the FCC. And, oh yes, you’ve got to make a profit, too, which means keeping your clients happy.
“As a Cox station, we pay attention to detail,” says Sales Manager Denise Miller. “We make sure we deliver what we promise to advertisers. We always follow through.”
Because KRXI produces no local programming (it imports “local” news from San Francisco), it forged a partnership with KLCA-FM, a.k.a. [email protected], an adult contemporary station in the market. Thirty listeners qualified as semi-finalists by being the fifth caller to sing over the phone during morning drive on the radio station. Viewers could then listen to all 30 and vote for the 10 finalists on KRXI’s Web site, driven there by spots on KRXI, its sister station KAME and the radio station.
The climax of the contest was a live finals hosted by Bill & Connie, the radio station’s morning team, at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino.
Contestents had plenty of incentive to sing their hearts out. The grand prize: a trip for two to Hollywood, including hotel and airfare; a 44-inch HD set from R.C. Willey home furnishings; and a year of HD programming and a DVR from the local cable operator, Charter Communications. (All finalists also qualified for a chance in a $1,000 random drawing, courtesy of Budweiser.)
And to make sure Reno music fans turned out in force, Internet Auto Rent & Sales provided a Mini Cooper, which was awarded to one lucky audience member. Best of all, each of the sponsors trumpeted their participation with cash buys on KRXI and KAME—spots that ran around American Idol, The Simpsons, and syndie hits Seinfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond.
Before the last high note faded, KRXI had made some sweet sales music:
- Over $90,000 in new spot revenue.
- Nearly $3,000 in Web revenue, with a 50% boost in page views and a 67% increase in unique viewers.
- Over 800 attendees at the live finale at the Eldorado, which the next day asked if this could be an annual event.
Steve Cummings generously credits this success to his sales team, especially Amie Chapman, Kelly Gaskill and Sales Manager Miller, who offers some useful tips to other stations who might want to try this at home: “We rewrote our rules many times before they became final. Make sure you go over every word of every promo with your lawyers, especially if a car giveaway is involved.”
So You Think You Can Sing! is set to reprise in 2007, with even bigger prizes. But before that, KRXI has cooked up a sales promotion to boost holiday sales for the fourth quarter—a promotion that we hope we can share in a future column.
Market Share by Arthur Greenwald is a series on successful station promotions that appears every Monday. Next week, discover how some lucky Louisiana viewers won a trip to, well, anywhere in the world — plus a cautionary tale about how not to run a travel sweepstakes. We’re on the lookout for other good ideas for increasing local audience and revenue. If you have one (or more) to share, please contact Arthur Greenwald at [email protected].