We spend lots of time in radio differentiating between what’s important and what’s not. What’s important is viewed as necessary, while what’s not important is generally unnecessary.
But what if it’s the unnecessary that drives attention and passion to your brand?
What if it’s exactly the stuff you don’t have to do but do anyway that makes all the difference to an audience of consumers who, more than anything else, are looking for a communal experience to love?
This is the story of one such unnecessary. And the tale illustrates with crystal clarity what makes a great brand stay that way while the other guys obsess only on what’s “important.”
“Minerva” was the name WMMR midday legend Pierre Robert gave the original VW microbus he drove cross-country in 1980 in search of a radio job in Philadelphia. On Pierre’s twentieth anniversary with the station he was given a successor: Minerva 2.
WMMR’s fabulous PD Bill Weston takes up the story:
After 10 years of use, Minerva 2 had devolved into a rusted hulk, only held together by the vinyl wrap job. The station had been told by our landlord to get it off the property as it was no longer registered. We offered to sell it to Pierre for a dollar so long as he moved it to his own driveway. Or else we were giving it to the Kidney Foundation. Within a week of her demise, a deal was devised by a WMMR sales person and non-advertiser Collision Max to restore her to driving condition. We built in a cash advertising package, a trade schedule for body work services. Pierre was thrilled and made trips to the body shop locations, and did live read/endorsements for Collision Max on-air. The Collision Max people REALLY got into it- putting far more time effort expense in body work, drivetrain, paint scheme than ever imagined. It has a Saturn engine, GM drivetrain, added air conditioning, automatic transmission, and a one-of-a-kind paint job that details the history of WMMR over her 45 year history, plus many hidden easter eggs that tell the story of Pierre Robert. We have a series of appearances scheduled this summer at Collision Max locations and at many big concerts. We have also gotten new car business from a VW dealer in NJ who loved the attention the brand was getting from Pierre on air.
Here is the climactic moment when Minerva is “revealed” to Pierre:
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I first heard about this strictly “unnecessary” story when someone told me that, of all the hot new cars that got attention at the Philadelphia Auto Show, nothing compared to the crowds and the attention lavished on the all-new Minerva 2.
So did this “unnecessary” event contribute to fan loyalty? Did it enhance the relationship listeners had with their favorite station and the midday guy at the helm? Did it promote the kind of emotional reaction that is beyond the realm of any super-long set of uninterrupted music? Did it give fans something to share with their friends, something to talk about? Did it make WMMR ever-more relevant in the minds and lives of real, red-blooded people?
Sometimes what’s not “important” can turn out to be essential.
But only if you’re open to the unnecessary.