Simple marketing lessons from Triple J…

Years ago when the rebellious youth radio station Triple J finally got to broadcast nationally, with a foot print covering regional areas as well as capital cities, my agency was hired to launch the brand around the country.

A national tour of live broadcasts was scheduled. In true Triple J style, we printed street posters that were posted illegally in the towns prior to the live broadcasts. There were stickers, music posters, a TVC and free screen savers were distributed on floppy discs – how pioneering. Those were the bleeding edge days of the digital age.

One of the simple, but often overlooked things we did, was run a competition which captured details, via phone, fax, mail and that emerging technology, email. We then created a very unique mail-order catalogue. It was the first to ever sell Triple J merchandise, music and clothing.

It was called The J Collectibles. The design was landscape – the pictures below show the images stacked, but in the catalogue the image was the left hand side of the spread with the copy on the right hand side of the spread.

Front & back Covers

Take a seat…sit down and relax…

1st spread
The first spread showing catalogue in situ as bathroom reading

Bedroom Bonanza

2nd spread
Impress the love of your life with your own bedroom collection


3rd spread
That modern music format – CDs

Get yourself hooked

4th spread
The NCA (National Cap Association) recommends no more than 3 at a time

Coffee table accessories…

5th spread
Create a new look in your lounge every day

Embarrass your neighbours

6th spread
Be the first in your street with a full clothes line of J Gear and embarrass your neighbours

A very unconventional order form

final spread

The fascinating thing about the ‘decline’ of traditional media like radio, press and television (which are still some of the most powerful ways to reach large audiences, but that’s another blog) is that they could easily have lead the digital revolution.

The easiest thing a media brand can do, more than any other brand, is to quickly build a database of listeners/viewers/readers – very cost effectively. They just need to run competitions and link entrants to a landing page for data capture. The cost of promotion is minimal, as they promote within their own media channel and the prizes for the competitions are usually supplied by the advertisers and sponsors.

Then they can communicate personally to these fans via email, phone, mail, an App as well as in their specific mass media channel. Some are doing it reasonably well.

Triple J has J Mail, a weekly email newsletter as well as loads of social channels, podcasts and an online store where these days you can buy your Triple J Collectibles.

The Macquarie Radio Network, has an email newsletter, lots of competitions to keep listeners engaged and I believe they are part of the FiftyUp Club – a group buying club that gets ‘member’ discounts on utilities, insurance and other products.

Sunrise is a morning breakfast television show. They used to have an email newsletter, though they may have been conned to only use social media now, as they have a social hub. There doesn’t appear to be a subscribe to newsletter form.

There are other good examples, but they are in the minority. The problem in the media industry is simple. They don’t understand what business they are in. They think they are in the ratings business, when they are in the same business as all others – the business of making and keeping customers profitably. I understand the need to focus on the ratings. Yet they seem more focused on their presenters, journalists and dare I say it, their stars – rather than their customers.

Here’s an example. Recently Channel 7 sent emails out to advertisers and prospective advertisers. Apparently they are holding a party for the cast and crew of some daytime chat shows. They are hitting on the recipients of the email to supply free products and vouchers to make up large gift hampers for the cast and crew. Why? Because they can.

According to the email, the reward for giving free stuff to Channel 7 is that there will be plenty of social media activity at the party! Yes dear reader – that’s supposed to be a benefit for your brand. The narcissism is palpable – and not a customer in sight.

Hopefully there won’t be any drunken selfies of the cast without their foundation by Spakfilla and make-up by Dulux – one shudders to think of the images.

drunk selfies

Traditional media should not be struggling for advertising revenue in the digital age. They have everything they need to easily build valuable relationships with their audiences and sponsors resulting in profitable businesses. Unfortunately they are looking in the wrong direction.

Hmm I’m off to get a bunch of cheap mirrors to donate to the hampers.


  1. Great post Malcolm! The key point…
    “The problem in the media industry is simple. They don’t understand what business they are in. They think they are in the ratings business, when they are in the same business as all others – the business of making and keeping customers profitably.”
    Traditional media lost sight of that fundamental because in the pre-internet era they had a technological monopoly that enabled them to make money without actually having to be particularly good. The disruptive force of the internet means that no longer applies and they are lost.
    Same sort of problem applies to retailers. They think their business is about the channel (shops) rather than the customer.
    Kevin Francis

    • Thanks Kevin, yes the obvious is often overlooked. The internet is not a threat to retailers, just another way for them to sell stuff to customers who want to buy that way.

  2. Hello Malcolm – I read through your article with great interest. I’m going to forward to my CEO Brad Prout. First class capital is always looking for ways to acquire customers efficiently. This email won’t explode if I try to forward it to a non subscriber will it?


    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Right on as usual Mal! Only thing you missed is (and maybe on purpose because it was …the bleedin’ obvious)… TV companies are run by old bastards who don’t even know how to use a PC… so they trust their young geek “experts” to run the new age marketing where the only thing that matters is social media…

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