GCap makes more room for its brands

GCap Media, the UK’s largest radio group, has had a difficult year but it is working hard to convince the industry that it – along with flagship station Capital Radio – is now out of intensive care and on the road to recovery.

Industry sources say GCap is gearing up to launch a new corporate strategy that will show it has come a long way from the company that wrestled long and hard with the merger from which it was formed.

The new strategy is expected to include a significant focus on digital and, to lay the groundwork for this shift, GCap is already getting its commercial division ready.

Last month, it launched a series of “brand rooms” and films as part of an initiative to illustrate to advertisers and agencies what five of its key brands – Capital, Xfm, Choice, Classic and Planet Rock – are about.

The scheme is led by Simon Daglish, director of national sales and trade marketing, and aims to tackle the criticism that GCap has yet to start acting like a market leader. He explains: “[The word] radio only defines the box that people listen to us through but there are many different platforms now. GCap is not just a radio company any more, it is a media company and brand is the new platform. This is a way for people to reconnect with our brands.”

Brand values The rooms use key elements of each brand to demonstrate what it and its listeners are about. For example, the room for urban music station Choice FM is decked out as a VIP area of a nightclub, complete with white leather seating and champagne glasses. The room for Planet Rock, its digital classic rock station, is based on the Osbourne family dining room with red crushed velvet gothic-style chairs.

The brand films, shown in the “GMax” cinema, aim to showcase the brands’ music policy and demonstrate their importance in individual markets. The films have been shot using technology called Musion, which creates a 3D effect without the need for 3D glasses. The Classic FM film features a “hologram” of singer and musician Myleene Klass, while Xfm’s is hosted by an animated character similar to the cartoon band members of the Gorillaz.

Daglish says the rooms have received “well into double six figures” of investment and adds that this will continue as they are rotated to cover different brands in an attempt to keep them fresh. Advertisers and agencies are invited to use the rooms for brainstorming sessions and events and, while they have yet to prove their worth for GCap, radio industry observers are reluctant to criticise the scheme because it is “genuinely new”.

Barclays senior advertising manager Dean Cowell says the rooms and the GMax cinema are a “great way to contextualise the brands”. He adds: “We will be looking to encourage other clients to go and have a look.”

Face of the past But one industry insider thinks “there was a lot of hype about the scheme and it did not quite live up to it”. Another feels the films were disappointing due to the use of DJs who feel “old fashioned”. The senior source adds: “They want to appear forward looking, but use a face that is so strongly embedded in the past. If that is the best they can do, it doesn’t bode well.”

PHD managing director Morag Blazey thinks part of GCap’s problem is the number of brands it has and how to make that clear for advertisers. She says: “It helps to make the essence of the brands clear and helps people to recognise that it is not just a big conglomerate.”

Howard Bareham, head of radio at MindShare, also welcomes the strategy but adds that GCap needs to focus on developing the sales team to ensure it lives up to its promise and potential.

This sales-led initiative has created the beginnings of renewed industry goodwill towards GCap. The senior source believes this is partially due to Daglish, who is well known in radio and “a personality above and beyond”. But the source adds that it is time for Daglish and GCap to make their strategy translate into growing revenue and audiences.

Caroline Parry

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