Local car dealer loses radio bet

By CJNS staff
March 30, 2017 - 2:15pm Updated: March 31, 2017 - 9:22am

The gauntlet was thrown down recently between two local radio stations and an automotive dealership to test the effectiveness of radio advertising. A bet was agreed to between the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group and PineRidge Ford that the radio stations could give away $500 within 15 minutes of airing a special promotion, just to prove how much people listen to local radio.

Residents of Meadow Lake couldn’t believe their ears recently when they tuned into CJNS and Q98 in Meadow Lake to hear free money was being given away! As the promotion came over the radio waves, within seconds, residents were flying into PineRidge Ford to try and get their hands on a crisp $100 bill.

The event was a one-time promotion by the radio stations to show a sceptical advertiser that radio advertising has tremendous pull, reach and influence to a local community. PineRidge Ford had wondered whether radio advertising still worked, considering the myriad of advertising options available.

From time to time, Karl Johnston, general manager of CJNS and Q98 gets asked if radio advertising really works, and he was happy to prove that it does. The idea was to run a one-time notice on each station, offering $100 to the first five people who came down to PineRidge Ford within 15 minutes, and $10 McDonalds gift cards to everyone else who showed up.

“Advertisers tell me their biggest question is ‘does advertising work’ and ‘does radio still work?’ We know the answer is yes because we deliver results for local businesses every day. But I still get the question. Unfortunately, advertising is not an exact science. But if you use a medium like radio with frequency, consistency and have strong creative you will win, because you will position yourself top of mind and first in the consumers heart long before they need whatever you’re selling,” said Johnston.

After the first notification of the contest aired on CJNS around noon, $500 was handed out to drivers who pulled up to the dealership within two minutes and 30 seconds. Drivers came rushing into the lot saying they had heard the contest and were ecstatic to be handed a $100 by Johnston. Dozens more came and received a $10 McDonalds gift card, courtesy on Meadow Lake McDonalds. A total of $250 in gift cards was also given away to those who came to PineRidge Ford.

After the second notification of the contest on Q98 around 1 p.m., local residents flew down to PineRidge Ford even faster, as all $500 was handed out within one minute and 49 seconds, proving that people do in fact listen to local radio and hear the message loud and clear.

Even though the message was free money, Johnston was happy to see people come down so quickly and prove they are listening. But the ‘experiment’ wasn’t just about giving away free money, it was also to show people listen, and the message matters.

“We tell advertisers the more salient the offer the fewer ads they need to buy. Most advertisers use radio week in week out because you never know when someone listening needs your product or service. The goal of advertising is to be top of mind: when the customer needs your product or service they think of you first and feel best about you. Long-term branding is the best way to get the biggest bang for your advertising dollar. However, radio can work with even a single ad — as we proved — the offer just has to be very compelling and it was,” said Johnston.

Johnston added he knows there is plenty of places competing these days for local businesses advertising budgets, but added he knows radio has always worked, and will continue to work, as it is broadcast not only over the airwaves in local communities, but also across the world online.

“Sometimes advertisers wonder if advertising is working because they don’t see immediate results,” said Johnston.

“Ninety six per cent of Canadians still listen to over the air radio on the prairies every week. That’s a fact. Unfortunately, radio is seen as a ‘traditional media’ and some advertisers think we’re losing audience like newspaper and television. We haven’t. Radio remains strong and is incredibly effective. Radio is great at building brands. The biggest businesses in town were most likely built on radio advertising and still use radio today,” added Johnston.

As for PineRidge Ford on losing the bet? Owner Kirt Prete said it was a worthwhile experiment. “I knew people would come down, and free money doesn’t hurt, but certainly I know that people do in fact listen to radio and the message we give is also very important,” said Prete.


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