Since having joined Nova Entertainment in 2010 as chief marketing and digital officer, Tony Thomas has overseen the birth of one of the biggest live event radio brands in Australia, the Nova Red Room. Along with this, Thomas has also pulled off an “Ellen move”, not once but twice, by transitioning a popular show’s segment into an app-based game – like the popular US talk show Ellen host did with Heads Up.
Such brand extensions, according to Thomas, maintain a show’s relationship with the listeners outside its broadcast.
“We’ve really ensured over the last few years that we look at our brand as an entertainment proposition,” Thomas told Mediaweek as he caught a taxi to head into a meeting.
“We’ve got the scope and a brand that is strong enough to take it out into different environments and occasions. The extensions, whether they’ve been app-based extensions or experiential extensions, have really helped cement the position and the equity of the Nova brand.”
Inarguably one of the biggest by-products of Nova’s brand extensions is the Nova Red Room. Since establishing the event in 2012, the Nova Red Room has gone global. The company first toured to overseas destinations with selected listeners for intimate gigs in 2014.
“The main reason is that music is a part of Nova’s DNA, and I really wanted to give people an experience where they touch and feel the brand, as well as experience the brand in an incredibly emotional way,” Thomas explained about the origin of the Red Room.
“They are two really big passion points for our audience: music and travel.
“We knew at that stage, when we first launched global, that there was a lot of sponsorship interest in Red Room locally. So we knew there were clients looking to create a bigger experience than just a one-off Red Room. We knew there was money in the market.”
Talking about how the event stacks up against its competitors in the Australian market, Thomas said: “We had a number of years before those guys [iHeartRadio Australia Live and World Famous Rooftop] came into the market to launch their versions of live music. We believe in the credentials and the credibility that we built up. The consistency of what we’d done had been really important to establishing the brand.
“We will always continue to challenge ourselves on what we do next and to take the ideas we’ve developed and ensure that we don’t just roll out the same ideas. [We will make sure that] we keep ahead of the pack, innovating and keep progressing what we’ve done so that when we’ve got copycats launching in the market we are already pushing out the next big thing. This is no different with the Red Room.”
A segment on Kate, Tim and Marty’s drive show, the Quick Draw, was released as an app-based game in December 2015. The audience’s familiarity with the segment has helped draw traction to the app on mobile. However, this isn’t the first game released by Nova. The company also launched The Age Game in June 2015, after the segment’s long-running success. The Age Game was established in 2013 when Meshel Laurie, Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell hosted the drive slot
“Those segments on our drive shows have been hugely popular segments. It obviously helped get the drive show to get to the #1 position in Australia. For us, it was about giving people at home the opportunity to play along with that so they didn’t need to call up on air. We know app-based games are really popular, so to combine the popularity of app-based games with the segment from Kate, Tim and Marty, it was a natural.
“In terms of Quick Draw, we’ve had close to 50,000 games played since the short time it launched in December 2015. The Age Game has been even more than that, so there have been close to 70,000 games played since December,” Thomas revealed
“This is people engaging with a game that’s being played on air. For us, that is a really great experience. People come away with that experience without having been on the show,” Thomas said, summing up the importance of brand extensions to Nova in a nutshell.