It’s not a 100% game

Successful brands know that they are not in the 100% game. They know that they do not need everyone to be passionate about them, in fact it’s critical that they don’t try and achieve that outcome.

However, successful brands know that it is vital that people feel ‘something’ about them. That people disliking your brand is something to be welcomed, as long as you have a core of people who are passionate supporters or consumers of it.

This means you stand for something. That you have an ‘est’. It is invisibility, and ambivalence, that brands must avoid.

Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands are examples of brands who understand that they are not in the 100% game.

Jones and Sandilands know that it is not a negative that hundreds of thousands of people ‘hate’ them. All that matters is that a decent proportion of the (roughly) 500,000 listeners to their respective shows each week are passionate about ‘Brand Sandilands’ and ‘Brand Jones’. 

Because it isn’t about 100%.

To generate this ‘love’ and ‘hate’ requires pushing the edges. Both Jones and Sandilands are in environments where their success is built on, and needs them to be, pushing the boundaries. Occasionally that means they cross the line.

Sandilands has made some appalling comments – the verbal attack on the journalist, the Magda Szubanski comments. Jones has done the same on numerous occasions, and the controversy over the (off-air) Gillard comments has been inflamed by his completely disingenuous apology.

I am not defending the comments. They were offensive, and both broadcasters deserved to be held to account over them.

However, the paradox of orchestrated social media campaigns, driven by people who are generally not listeners to either show, is that when they attack Jones or Sandilands, they are reinforcing the passion that the core fans feel for the show and for the personality.

Criticise Kyle for being edgy or inappropriate?

You reinforce to his core listeners why they choose to listen to him.

Criticise Jones for speaking his mind and attacking anyone who disagrees with him?

You reinforce why his core listeners choose to listen to him.

In the sporting world; whenever someone criticises Manly for being a team of silvertails, or Collingwood for being a team supported by bogans, it strengthens the ‘us against the world’ bond that their fans have with those clubs.

Collingwood have been particularly smart about how they have leveraged this. A few years ago they distributed a bumper sticker saying ‘we hate you too’ alongside the Pies logo in their colours. Their membership campaign in 2012 was ”it’s us against them”. Clever.

Because it’s not about achieving 100%. And it works.

Almost every caller that Jones put to air following the Gillard story was gently rebuking but strongly supportive; “I think you said the wrong thing Alan, but you’ve apologised and I still love your show”. Clearly the producers call-screened very well, however there is no doubt that the core fans were defending their under siege patriarch.

In the most recent Nielsen survey, Jones and Sandilands Breakfast shares were well ahead of their competitor set.

Although, given share is not an indicator of ‘share of listeners’, but rather ‘share of listening’, the Jones figures are inflated by the impact of TSL given 2GB’s older profile. Nevertheless, his ratings are spectacular – as are Sandilands (with Jackie O) – and neither has been, or will be, impacted adversely by the social media campaigns against them.

To be fair, these campaigns do have a short-term impact on revenue, and a corresponding positive impact on their competitors revenue.

I am sure that 2UE’s revenue performance in October is probably pretty good, and equally Nova 969 and Mix 106.5 would have benefited in revenue when the Kyle comments about the journalist hit the fan.

However, the revenue always returns.

Every criticism reinforces why the core fans choose to engage with ‘Brand Jones’, ‘Brand Sandilands’, Collingwood, or Manly.

Every attack reinforces the core fans membership of the ‘club’. 

The orchestrated social media campaigns would do well to consider that it is not a 100% game.

Neither Kyle Sandilands or Alan Jones need everyone to enjoy them, they just need around 500,000 or so people in Sydney to be passionate about their respective brands, and the view of the rest of the population is completely irrelevant. 

There is only one way the stated goal of the social media campaigners to have Jones and Sandilands sacked can occur. That is if their ratings become uncompetitive.

Ironically, by the existence of these campaigns they are strengthening the core listeners passion for the respective brands, and thus ensuring their survival.


Dan Bradley is Executive Director of Kaizen Media; a boutique international radio consulting and artist management company, working with radio stations, media talent and music artists.

You can contact Dan here. 


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