Craig Bruce: “We are much more patient than you’d imagine. We are ready for the long haul”

Staff Writer

We’ve been talking to the Group Content Directors about Survey #3. Earlier it was ARN’s Duncan Campbell and NOVA Entertainments Paul Jackson. Up next it’s Craig Bruce, Group CD for Southern Cross Austereo.

SCA saw some great wins for the Triple M brand in a number of key markets – Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. All are performing well, particularly in breakfast. Craig told us that: “breakfast is about consistency, and consistency of product…”.

But is that same consistency happening with Dan & Maz, on hit104.1 2Day FM? We ask him. 

And we find out why Michelle Anderson exited the Brisbane Grill Team.

Blair Sullivan: Let’s start with the Triple M Network….A couple of the standouts are the Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne results.

Craig Bruce: Yep, very very strong. That Sydney result, gee you’d have to go a long way back to find a result like a 7.8 on breakfast on 2MMM. And you know five years in the making, breakfast is about consistency, and consistency of product, rapport and chemistry and the things that come with that.

And certainly for Melbourne and Sydney these shows have been around for a long period of time and we have built up a strong relationship with the audience. They know what they are going to get from both shows and both have had a terrific day.

Off the back of that, the success of Merrick in Sydney and the Rush Hour in Melbourne with James and Billy. And you’ve got the bonus of football on the weekends. People have asked if that brings ratings, but it is really the cream on the cake. You’ve gotta have great breakfast shows to have the results we have had today.

But certainly the AFL and NRL bring that 24/7 focus during the season that no other network can bring.


Blair: On Triple M Brisbane, why did Michelle Anderson exit the Grill team?

Craig: We found over the last 12 months that it became pretty clear to us that the audience and the show was at its best when it was centred around Ed and Marto. We are giving the boys a little more room to develop their chemistry.

Michelle had been fantastic for us for a number of years, but as I said it was pretty clear that something was building really nicely there with Ed and Marto and we wanted to focus on that.

4MMM has always been a really strong at work radio station as well. And the numbers were excellent today from an at work perspective but I think we can do better as well.


Blair: What has been your marketing focus, on and off air, with the Triple M brand?

Craig: We market where the audience is, so you will see us at football. We obviously market Eddie and the Hot Breakfast because they are a number 1 show and a critical brand for us. It’s a slightly different approach to what we do with the hit network.

Those numbers in Brisbane, and Ed & Marto will tell you, they have got little to do with above the line marketing but there are lots of ways you can skin a cat in terms of getting your brand awareness up, so from a Triple M perspective it’s about being where the audience is. There are several other elements we bring to the table to keep the brand top of mind.


Blair:  The hit Network, which has been the best market for you?

Craig: Good to see some increases in Perth. Heidi, Will and Woody off a low base had a good increase, and if you look at the under 30 audience profile, we are now number 1 in that market now. Perth has traditionally been Hamish & Andy’s strongest market outside of Melbourne, so we think there is real opportunity for growth in the second half of the year.

Couldn’t be happier where Cat & Amos is sitting.  Forget the result, it’s four weeks old. Come back and see me at the end of the year. There is no question they will find an audience.

Fox will break out of the pack in the second half of the year. There is no question about that with Hamish & Andy. Their cume number with those boys were early 600 to 700,000’s – we get to fire that bullet in the coming weeks.

Brisbane is the same, it has always researched very well for Hamish & Andy and I think we will see an improvement in the results of hit105 in the second half of the year.

But 2Day FM is the one we would like to see some improvement on pretty quickly.

It’s a bloody tough market mate, and once again with the full roster available to us, Sydney is a brutal market.  We need some A graders in the roster. We don’t even have a drive show on 2Day because we can’t replay Dan & Maz. So Hamish & Andy will certainly help.

Like any new show, Dan & Maz are going to take some time to grow their audience in Sydney. There was never going to be an overnight stampede of audience from any other heritage breakfast shows in the market. It was always going to take time. And we are much more patient that you’d imagine. We are ready for the long haul.

Blair: You touched on Triple M before talking about consistency in product. Are you getting consistency with Dan & Maz in what they are doing – are you happy with what they are doing?

Craig: The transition from Drive to breakfast is the key thing for them. I was saying to someone the other day, Fifi and Marty moved from Drive to Breakfast with the Shebang about 5 or 6 years ago and it took a little while for them to find their feet in terms of the content choices.

That’s really the thing for us at the moment. The Dan & Maz show was brilliant in Drive. It is a fantastic, funny, youthful show and it still is, it worked perfectly at that time of the day. There are just some content choices we need to help them with at breakfast.

And we need to make noise in Sydney. It’s a big market and unless you are doing unique content all the time you can get lost in the pack.  


Blair: We have seen Hughesy and Kate come to the fore in a couple of markets now – 3 surveys in – Hamish & Andy are arriving on the scene in July – will Hughesy and Kate impact your chances?

Craig: Hughesy and Kate are an excellent show, Hamish & Andy are better.

Sean Craig Murphy was number 1 in Adelaide last year as was Campo in Brisbane off the back of the 97.3 and Mix breakfast shows being strong. Rosso was number one in Sydney last year. So nothing has changed there in that respect.

We are about to put Hamish & Andy in, who would regularly pull 20 shares in Melbourne into that market in July. I’m pretty confident that we are going to go okay.


Blair: Already you are ramping up the Hamish & Andy marketing on-air – how hard are you going to market them?

Craig: Very hard, across all platforms. The thing for us is we don’t have to explain the show to anyone, they already know who Hamish & Andy are. They know what they are going to get with the show. We just have to tell people where to find them.


Blair: What’s next?

Craig: Triple M is in a position now where consolidation has been reached to a large degree. You never want to walk away and go “job done” and put your feet on the desk and start cruising. But Triple M is in a pretty good position right across the country, as is the Mix brand in Perth. So we are ok there.

The consolidation and the rebuild of the hit network will start in earnest in survey 5.

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