Summer Promotions

ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A DJ? This could be on-air call-ins or on-site at a sponsor location.

Get a local educator to come up with the questions, so it is unbiased; get Staples, Wal-Mart or some other typical back-to-school shopping site to sign on as sponsor. The sponsor buys a schedule and kicks in gift certificates for the winners for back-to-school shopping.

Of course, there are no losers. If the DJ wins, the gift certificate goes to a local program that purchases school supplies for the needy. If the person (could be a child or adult) competing against the DJ wins, their gift certificate goes to the same charity and they get a station T-Shirt, fast food or ice cream gift certificates. Of course, if the person wins they get the sponsor’s gift certificate. Listeners register at sponsor sites or on the station website.

BARBEQUE ON THE BIRD. Give away a full-service Father’s Day barbeque, complete with a La-Z-Boy recliner and a new barbeque grill for Dad. Listeners register by saying why their dad is a most deserving to win. Grand Prize and first and second place winners are selected by volunteer judges.

BUST INTO SUMMER. Invite listeners to register for two free bus trips—an inexpensive way to have summer fun—to attractions roughly two hours away. Sponsors receive added-value mentions during promotional announcements, plus point-of-purchase registration materials. The promotion runs eight weeks.

CAR SHOW. It’s a story right out of American Graffiti. Our local Classic Chevy Club has held a car show in a local park for many years. The night before their show, they do a “cruise” which includes a stop by the radio station parking lot, where we do a live all-request Oldies show that night. We sell sponsorships with commercials running in the broadcast of the car show. Along with these sponsorships, we have full-blown sponsorships of vendors participating with food and other goods, car detailers, parts stores and other auto-related types of businesses, insurance companies and more.

Our Oldies show has become a street dance in the middle of all the classic cars. Sponsors provide prizes; we sell and give away “car show” t-shirts, balloons, hats and other things along with collectors dashboard plaques which each car entry receives and collects; we even have a “listener appreciation” award (an actual trophy and cash) that the spectators vote on their favorite car.

CASTLE OF CANS. Your listeners build structures out of empty soda cans and compete for prizes (the biggest, best-looking, ugliest, most creative, tallest, etc.). Hold the event in a park, at a shopping mall or in the parking lot of a retail store. Target soft-drink bottlers, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc. as advertisers. Tie into a charity like Special Olympics, MS, etc., where sponsors donate a certain amount of money for each can used in the structures. Or tie into your community’s recycling efforts, sponsored by local government.

CELEBRITY BACKYARD BBQ. Listeners register at participating businesses. They can win a barbeque at their home, during which the station provides food and beverages for the winning family, 10 of their friends and the station on-air team. Barbeques are in May, June, and July. We post a promo with picture on the home page of our website, along with pictures of the current barbeque. Each winner gets to keep the grill.

CELL PHONE CONTEST. Work with a local cellular provider. Listeners call a designated line to leave a message with their name and where they are calling from. The listener who calls on their vacation from the greatest distance wins “a vacation while being on vacation by calling the [company] Wireless Travel Line.” The caller from the greatest distance wins a long weekend getaway, including hotel, tickets to attractions, dinners, and $1,000 cash. We use the messages from the callers for on-air promos, which sound great. (The wireless carrier can determine that each call actually comes from the claimed destination.)

CHARITY BIKER. Have one of your jocks take a bike ride along a regional route for charity; solicit pledges. Invite listeners to join the ride.

CONCERTS IN THE PARK. If your community has a Noontime concert series or a “Live at Five,” get involved. It’s an opportunity to expose your station to lots of people. If your community doesn’t have such a Summertime series, your station can be a hero by organizing one.

COUNTY FAIR. Do live broadcasts from your County Fair, brought to you by participating advertisers. Some will be regular big spenders who get included as part of their annual contracts, but the rest all buy 60 thirty-second ads and a dozen promos and live mentions during the broadcast.

DUNK A JOCK. One of the oldest tricks in the book, this one still hits homers at remotes and fairs. Set up a dunk tank and invite attendees to dunk one of your popular personalities; all proceeds go to charity.

END OF SUMMER BLOW-OUT. If you have a clothing store anywhere near you—an increasing rarity, we admit—try this one: in the ad copy, say your station’s general manager or morning jock dropped by the store and dropped a business card into the pocket of one outfit. The first listener who finds the card gets the outfit, in his or her size, absolutely free!

FATHER’S DAY is a perfect time to run one of our favorite promotions: arrange with a local restaurant to set up a special telephone and allow patrons to place Father’s Day calls for a two- or three-hour period. The fine print: the calls can be to anywhere in the Continental U.S., but cannot be longer than three minutes (or two, or five, or whatever you agree on). This is a great draw for the restaurant, and a good promotion for your station.

GET THE JOCK DRUNK. This perennial favorite can be great radio, and works especially well around the July 4 weekend. Have a DUI officer from the local cops and/or a local physician administer measured doses of alcohol (the official unit is “a shot”) to the jock every half hour or hour, and then give him or her various drunk-driving tests. The jock will get a little wacky, of course, which makes for good radio; trust the experienced radio person’s natural inhibitions from getting too wacky. This “educational” broadcast always creates a ton of street talk.

GIANT STICK-UP. A great way to distribute those bumper stickers and please a client, too: Announce a big “stick-up day” at a local parking lot. Every car that comes in gets a sticker affixed to its bumper (by permission, of course) and becomes an instant winner of a variety of prizes—station logo items, sponsor items, fast-food certificates and so on.

HOT SPOT. During the hottest months of the summer, offer to pay utility bills (up to a certain amount) to families who submit winning tips on saving energy. This is sponsored by the local utility company, who credits the winners’ bills in return for sponsorship mentions.

HOTTEST SUMMER PRIZE: TRAVEL. Two-thirds of all Americans take a summer vacation trip of 100 miles or more. To build interest in your summer promotions, give away a getaway.

INTERNET SAFETY FAIR. Objective: Prevention through education of Internet dangers. Target: Parents and the “tweener” generation most vulnerable to Internet predators. Partner with the state Attorney General’s office, local school districts and local law enforcement agencies to host a school assembly; classroom break-out; hands-on workshop; and after-school social and discussion with sponsors, parents and students. Sponsors: local hospital, Internet service provider and telephone company sponsors.

LIFE’S A BEACH. Even if you’re landlocked, you can have a day at the beach. Convert a downtown block, town square, parking lot or what-have-you into a beach, complete with sand, bands, contests, food and drink, fashion shows and more. Begin the music at Noon, using local talent for a full day of music. Set up a dunk tank, bikini contest, Mr. Muscle contest, “most creative sand castle” competition and other seaside staples. Work with a local beverage distributor and other local sponsors to make it happen.

MIDNIGHT MOVIE EXPRESS. Even in these days of corporate-controlled small-town theaters, there are still plenty of opportunities to work with the local manager to put on a series of Midnight movies—booking older classics or newer art films, depending on your market. Give out “Midnight Movie Express Cards” and punch them each time the cardholder attends. After nine punches, the tenth Midnight movie is free. Get the theater to put a slide with your call letters in its sequence. You can also do drawings to give away passes to the theater’s regular fare.

MUD FEST AND LUAU. In conjunction with the County Fair, create a two-inch-deep mud pit on the rodeo grounds. Hold mud football, tug of war, muddiest kid contest, obstacle course, sand castle contest—and of course a wild mud pig race—in the mud pit. Include a Hawaiian Luau, complete with a Polynesian cooked pig, tropical drinks and the loudest Hawaiian shirt contest.

NATIONAL DRIVESAFE MONTH is to focus attention on teen driving safety. A tie-in promotion that is effective – and fun to do – is to have one of your air personalities “get drunk on the air,” under the supervision of the local police department. A police officer or a doctor administers measured doses of alcohol at prescribed intervals, and then performs tests of motor response, verbal ability, and so on. This is good radio, and it really gets the town talking.

PARADIO. Broadcast live from parades at area celebrations. Use two-person teams to do the broadcasts.

POOL PATROL. Mobilize your staff to hit area public pools to give away logo items, CDs and other small prizes—often provided by sponsors (supermarkets, beverage distributors, etc.). Staff should wear logo tees and caps. On the air, in advance, promote where you’ll be. When you arrive on the scene, do a phoner back to the station. (If you’re automated, pre-tape the call and drop it into a stopset.)

ROLLING WEDDING. If your County Fair has a roller-coaster, commandeer it for a “rolling wedding.” The official (minister, priest, whatever) gives the vows via headsets to the lucky couples seated in the coaster seats.

SECRET SUMMER STASH. Every weekday, your station broadcasts a clue an hour to a prize in the Secret Stash. The listener who first guesses one of the prizes gets a Summer-themed mini-stash prize: a beach towel (better if it has your logo on it), swimwear and a CD. The first listener to name all ten Summer-related prizes wins them all.

SOUNDS LIKE SUMMER. Produce a series of 60-second highlights on various summertime activities around your town, making liberal use of sound effects to set the mood. Sell the series to one or more advertisers (this one is great for institutional and non-traditional advertisers). Use the catch-phrase, “It sounds like summer on WXXX, brought to you by …” Twist: turn the sound effects in the highlights into a contest.

STREET HITS. A personality takes your station vehicle to a busy intersection or a popular shopping area. The jock then calls back to the station and goes on the air, saying he or she will be at such-and-such location for the next 10 minutes, and the first (insert your frequency here) people to stop by get a free six-pack of (insert sponsor nonalcoholic beverage here), logo items, movie passes, etc.

SUMMER SURVIVOR. Listeners enter at sponsor locations to compete in a series of “Summery” activities at a big live event in a local park to win an ATV or one of many other prizes as part of the sponsorship packages.The contestants are pre-selected on-air to compete in silly variations of such things as miniature golf, horseshoes, shuffleboard, basketball shooting, as well as more offbeat games like frisbee targets, watermelon-eating, “crab-walking” through tires—the wackier the better. Each contestant must sign a waiver of liability before participating.

The sponsor investment includes a schedule of commercials to run throughout the Summer, hundreds of promos, entry materials, posters, signage at the live broadcast at the event, and logo on the tee shirts worn by the contestants. Sponsors provide prizes ranging from audio and sporting equipment to food and gift certificates, awarded to the other contestants.

SUMMER JOB LINE. Help local businesses get part-time help for the season by running 60-second help-wanted announcements containing a number of opportunities (paid for by the businesses, of course). Prospects include restaurants, factories, car washes, garden stores and other seasonal businesses.

SUMMER CRUISE. Chances are, you’re close enough to a lake, ocean or river to do this. Chances are, there’s a gambling boat on said body of water. Chances are, you can work with the boat to mount a bus trip thereto (if it’s more than an hour away) or just give away tickets to featured entertainment on the boat. (They just want bodies on board to gamble.)

SUMMER TIE-INS. Sponsor a local baseball team … co-promote a concert or series of concerts in the park … put together an “all-star” baseball game for charity, featuring local “celebrities” and radio station personnel … get your local drive-in movie (or indoor theater) to play a station-produced music tape before the feature (sprinkled with “ads” for the theater and mentions of your call letters) … tie in with a local womens clothing store for a fashion show featuring prominent local folk and station personalities … team up with your local fire department for an Appreciation Day, displaying firefighting gear to the public … get your announcers to “call” sports events in your area (games, races, etc. – wherever there’s a PA system) and to make other public appearances as well.

SUMMER SOUND GAME. Another way to use summer sounds in a contest is to play a recorded sound effect and ask listeners to call and guess the sound. The winner receives a prize provided by one of your participating sponsors.

THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER is the time to get lots of things cranked up. A good promotion for that day might be “[Market]’s Largest Outdoor Barbecue.” This is a food-fest held in the parking lot of a local grocery store. Through the participating grocer, you can arrange to offer free samples of various products sold in the store to listeners/customers who show up. The store and their vendors commit to advertising schedules and everybody receives promotional mentions on the air.

TICKET GIVE-AWAY REMOTES. Trade a bunch of tickets to see a popular act in your format who’s performing in the region. Any advertisers who purchase a live broadcast event before the concert will get a drawing during the remote to give away two concert tickets—if the contestant contacts the station within 10 minutes of hearing his/her name on the radio during the remote—plus two tickets for the advertisers’ own use. Also, give tickets away on your website and during listener call-in promotions on the air.

TREASURE HUNT. Each day during a week-long outdoor festival, 30 merchants post a clue sheet (using a different color paper each day). Listeners use the clues to find the treasure chest on the festival grounds, which contains wooden nickels redeemable for prizes at merchants’ stores. The merchants each buy $75 in advertising and donate a prize.

VISIBLE VAULT. Rig up or buy a two-foot-square Plexiglas box with a combination lock on it. Fill it with $1 bills. Take it to remotes. During a remote, any listener who correctly guesses the combination and opens the vault keeps the cash.

WHEEL OF HOPE. Does your county fair feature a Ferris Wheel? Have one of your personalities take a marathon ride for charity—eating, sleeping and broadcasting from the wheel. Take pledges.