Interesting media development last week. A leading radio station started naming and shaming agencies and clients who hadn’t paid outstanding dues. They did this on air! During a drive of little less than 30 minutes, I heard their name and shame “spots” at least 5-6 times, each time with a different agency-client combo. The gist of the spot is as follows: This is in public interest; XYZ agency representing ABC brand refuses to pay us so many lakh rupees; we’re taking legal action; everyone is warned that they do business with them at their own risk.
Besides the legal and ethical questions this innovative practice might raise, I’d like to examine this from a media and marketing practices viewpoint.
a) How many consumers really know and care about who are the ad agencies producing the ads they hear? And how many give two hoots about what commercial terms the client-agency-media trio deal with? The answer is NONE.
A radio station complaining to the public at large about their non-payments is equivalent to a kid complaining to his school teacher about his neighbour’s dog eating up his homework.
Consumers only care about things that make a difference to them. Else it’s all noise.
In the meantime, the radio station is severely diluting its mission to entertain and educate the public by washing its own linen on air. I am tuning in to listen to songs. I don’t want to hear news that you lost money because you weren’t prudent enough in your choice of business partners.
b) Did the radio station not know the nature of this business and the credentials of the agencies/clients they were dealing with? I noted that all the agencies and clients being named in the spots were smalltime entities at best. No biggies there; no national brands. Now, everyone in the media business knows the pitfalls of dealing with small, local agencies and equally small, sometimes dubious clients. I’m pretty sure that the station’s media salesman must not have thought of collections while achieving his targeted revenue numbers. Does the radio channel not have any process to ensure that bad DNA is filtered before release orders are fulfilled? And if they do, then better stick to the legal recourse and don’t bore us with your lamentations of not having been paid!
In the end analysis, I’m pretty sure this naming and shaming exercise will eventually be sorted only in the courthouse. To my mind it benefits no one except giving the venting station manager a pyrrhic victory.