When Talent Meets Client: The Studio and SCA’s new approach to advertisers

SCA has launched a new space The Studio, where creative talents work directly with advertising clients

Southern Cross Austereo launched a new space called The Studio this week, where creative talents work directly with advertising clients and agencies to produce a promo.

“My face is actually on the phone. I am lying on the desk,” Triple M drive host Merrick Watts declared during a phone conversation with Mediaweek on the day of the launch of The Studio in Melbourne.

Speaking about the idea behind the creative space, head of The Studio Wade Kingsley told Mediaweek: “One of the things we are focused on in this business is that we are an entertainment business. The large part of the history of SCA, the entertainment factor, has largely lived with our content team and our content assets.

“When we are having a look at the ideas we want to create for our brands and agency partners, the very first thing that jumped out from the concept we’ve come with is that great ideas over the history of entertainment have emanated from a studio.

“What we wanted to be able to do is recreate the experience where our creators and our talents, who understand and engage fans really well, compel fans to action and do that in a new studio environment for brands. Effectively what we’ve done here in Melbourne, when we launch today, and when we build a studio in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, is build a brand new studio where creative talents and brands come together to collaborate on big campaign ideas.”

Wade Kingley Gemma Fordham Dave Cameron Ralph Van Dyke

Wade Kingsley, Gemma Fordham, Dave Cameron and Ralph Van Dyke

SCA’s sales department has undergone structural reset in the last six months since chief sales officer Brian Gallagher joined the business. The Studio is a product of this change.

Gallagher told Mediaweek, “I came to the business six months ago and so did the new CEO Grant Blackley, over the last five to six months. We’ve been having a good look at all the structures, processes, and the strategies around our very large business. It’s a huge company, it runs across multiple platforms, and every corner of the country.

“From a sales department point of view, behind the scenes, we’ve done a complete structural reset of the sales area in the national market. There are some 300 people in that team.

“The idea of ideation and creativity, which is the cornerstone of our growth strategy, lives in The Studio. I thought it was absolutely necessary to put ideation and creativity at the front of our sales house. That’s what will drive interest in our mediums. Great creativity creates great ROI for our brand partners.”

Gallagher is expecting the launch of The Studio to have an impact in sales at Southern Cross Austereo in a short term. “We’ve got a very clear set of objectives for the brands we want to work with. We are very, very confident that this is will change the nature of the conversation that we have. We are very confident that because of the streamlining and the restructure of these resources that we’re going to have a greater level of output. We are going to respond faster, and on message for on-air talent and the brand. It will result in an accelerated growth of the business,” he said.

4 SCA boss Grant Blackley (middle) with Jules Lund (left) and Merrick Watts

Jules Lund, Grant Blackley and Merrick Watts

On the impact the establishment of The Studio will have in the regional market, Gallagher said: “Metro radio particularly is in a very good place at the moment. It continues to grow, which other mediums are having somewhat of a struggle with. This will add to the positive momentum that exists around radio right now.

“We’ve got 34,000 active advertisers across our platforms in this country, and 26,000 of them are in the regional market. With our ability to reach 95% of the Australian population in any given week, you absolutely can bet that this will be just as important for our regional growth as it is for our metro growth.”

The formation of The Studio also means that SCA’s creative talents like Triple M drive host Merrick Watts will have to spend more time at work with the company’s advertising clients, on top of their existing duties.

“I don’t know about the monetary benefits. If there are any I am not getting it. I am unaware of that. I am currently being paid with what looks like half a quiche on the table,” Watts said to Mediaweek about any added incentives for creative talents.

Asked about how The Studio will help on-air talents like him deliver a brand message, Watts said, “If you are absolutely confident that what you are going to execute on air for clients is real, genuine and exciting for you and for your listeners, and therefore your clients, then that just means you are not going to have any speed bumps during the show. It lowers anxiety and you feel good about it. You look forward to it, as opposed to sitting in there going, ‘Oh god! I’ve got to do a promo.’

“There has been a shift in thinking and clients can actually become facilitators for your ideas, whereas it used to be, ‘Here’s what we need to do. Come up with an idea.’ Now it’s a two-way street. We can say, ‘Here’s a great idea I’ve got. Put it into The Studio.’”

Image: 2DayFM breakfast hosts Rove and Sam at The Studio

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