Of course, nobody ever listens to Virgin Radio out of choice, it's merely 'on' in offices and factories that think their Chasing Cars-all-day-every-day ethos is universal enough for everyone to feast in without actually being the pestilence of local commercial radio, so for anyone new to their advertising account you've got a right job on.
Did we say Virgin? Oh, silly us. Since Branson's company was bought out of their stake in the station it's become Absolute Radio. The way they're advertising this is a) Christian O'Connell putting his name to a book about Being A Man as if it were still 1996 and b) some of the clumsiest, most hateful online advertising we've seen. Let's start, and frankly we could finish here, with the tagline - "DISCOVER REAL MUSIC". "Real music". The worst phrase and concept in the whole world. "Real music" is the phrase that spawned a million popists, the automatic assumption that X is greater than Y where X is Guitar Bands Who Really Mean It As Decreed By Paul Weller - Weller, it often escapes such people's notice, a huge conisseur of soul and rare groove, songs often written for purpose by third parties - and Y is But They Don't Even Write Their Own Songs! (oddly, a concept rarely applied to Sinatra or Presley) Interested in the new Oasis album? No doubt Absolute will have played the whole thing several times over by the end of this week.
Then there's the "cheeky", "irreverent" (you can imagine those phrases in yellow highlighter on the flipchart) set-up lines:
"LIKE GIRL BANDS? wHAT ARE YOU, A LIB DEM MP?"
Yes, Vincent Cable. Notice 'girl bands' rather than 'girl groups', the latter being the Sugababes, the former being Bikini Kill. Somewhere in there is a truth spoken in out, as the demographical assumption with such "real music" lovers is that anything with a girl singing will bring them out in hives. Way to tell large swathes of potential listeners they're unwanted round here, by the way.
"BOY BAND FANS... THERE'S A REGISTER FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU"
Given the typical boy band fan is a fourteen year old girl we're guessing it's a school register, boy bands not noted for their instant attraction to paedophiles and sex offenders.
"HERPES OR THE CHEEKY GIRLS? IT'S A TOUGH CALL"
Do they only know one girl pop outfit? Still, at least they're differentiating themselves from all those other stations still playing the Cheeky Girls nearly six years later.
"NO WAY, BUBLE!"
Well, that's Michael Parkinson taken care of.
"THE LATE MICHAEL BOLTON. IF ONLY"
Now they're wishing death on innocent people, not least people who haven't had a top 40 single in eleven years. And we tell you what, those stations that endlessly play Richard Marx will get what's coming to them an' all. Incidentally, who'd like to see the TV advert? Suddenly Can I Touch You...There? looks like the soft option against heavy Hoosiers promotion. (The Hoosiers, of course, a so-called "real music" band whose facile marketing spend makes Blue look like Jandek)
And beyond all that, they're really sharpening up the gimmick factor. It's been reported that the station is inviting listeners to sit in on their weekly playlist meetings, because god knows focus grouping has been so successful at carving out an individual approach for commercially funded radio. There's a new tagline, "discover new music" - we look forward to those Rolo Tomassi and Italo-disco sessions. Despite this, according to the Guardian, the station will "put an emphasis on personality DJs". Yeah, that's just what we need. A check of that playlist reveals that, well, you could have written it, although under those strict guidelines surely Duffy and the Ting Tings are more than borderline.
The branding agency employed here previously worked on the faux-naivety and stupid target setting account of Innocent smoothies. It shows.