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How Extra stations achieve critical mass for radio brands

Tim Westwood

Capital XTRA’s Tim Westwood outside a club, probably.

To achieve recognition any consumer brand needs a certain amount of visibility. Some marketers think of this as a “critical mass”. In radio we build and maintain it in many ways, from finding an engaging and authentic voice on social media to planned events, talkable content on-air, above-the-line advertising and brand extensions.

Capital XTRASo today’s controversial announcement by Global Radio that it will launch Capital XTRA (note: always upper case) on Monday is a cost-effective way to make a brand a little bit bigger, broader and more certain to retain critical mass in a competitive market.

We know “Extra” stations work for radio brands. The BBC’s 1 Xtra and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra were early successes, Absolute Radio and Surrey & Hampshire’s Eagle Radio both sought value in Extra extensions, while Radio 4 Extra’s weekly reach moved from around 900,000 to over 1.6 million in six months when it rebranded from BBC Radio 7. Its content barely changed.

We learned that a simple jump from 4 to 7 was too much for some audiences, even though both stations came under a BBC umbrella, shared management and enjoyed the benefits of cross promotion.

Consumers respond to the “Extra / Xtra” concept. If you already trust the brand promise of your favourite station you will be more likely to sample its Extra channel since it comes recommended.

So today’s announcement from Global will be backed by that understanding, but it also brings three business advantages:

  • Global can attribute additional hours to the Capital brand and, therefore, sell more hours against it. They’re a little behind Kiss in this regard who launched Kisstory and Kiss Fresh a few weeks ago.
  • It’s one fewer brand to research and manage and it clears out a little market clutter. Capital’s brand positioning can therefore broaden slightly as the combined services become relevant to a wider audience.
  • Marketing spend and effort that previously supported the Choice brand can now swing behind Capital. Even a little push could be what’s necessary to maintain critical mass.

With multiple outlets on radio and television, a profitable events cycle and a growing online presence Global is building Capital into a world-beating music brand. Surely it’s only a matter of time before they franchise it overseas.

Capital XTRA sizzle reel

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