MediaWorks targets lucrative older demographic with new station

  • Radio
  • March 23, 2015
  • Damien Venuto
MediaWorks targets lucrative older demographic with new station

Following last week's announcement that Kiwi FM would be switching off, MediaWorks has now released a statement saying that new nationwide radio brand called Magic will launch on April 20.   

Targeted at 50- to 69-year-olds, the new station will be programmed by The Breeze content director Ian Avery and feature classic tracks from the likes of Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield and Rod Stewart, among others.    

Mark Leishman will host the 6am to 10am breakfast show 'Magic in the Morning', Bob Gentil will host the 'Magic Work Day' from 10am to 2pm, and Mark Smith will be behind the mic from 2pm to 7pm as the host of Magic Drive. 

The station will broadcast on a network of frequencies acquired by MediaWorks in last year’s Radio Spectrum auction, which saw both commercial networks splash out to secure strategically important slots.   

Upon launch, the station will be available only in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and online (via, but MediaWorks has also announced plans to extend the transmission into 12 other centres in the following months. 

MediaWorks radio chief executive Wendy Palmer says Magic will further strengthen the company’s reach:
“With the success of The Sound and The Breeze we have a very strong position at the top end of the 25-54 demographic," she said in a release. "Our research shows Magic will complement these brands and fill a significant gap in the market with an attitude and playlist that is currently missing from New Zealand radio.”

MediaWorks' group content director Leon Wratt adds: "Magic represents a new market for MediaWorks – it is a format we don’t currently have in our radio portfolio and opens up a new area of growth potential, both in terms of ratings and revenue.  Magic will extend our reach into the 1 million-strong demographic of all people aged 50 to 74." 

And despite be entering a market already occupied by an NZME station, Wratt is confident that the new station will prove successful.

"The main radio competitor will be NZME station Coast," says Wratt. "It was fantastic to come out of last year’s frequency auction with a network of new frequencies that we could use to launch Magic across New Zealand.  One of the consequences is that we will be launching Magic into a number of markets where Coast is currently not present, which is a significant advantage."

Even though there is a competitor already active in the market, targeting this older group does make sense from a commercial point of view. A study conducted last year by Victoria University showed that Kiwis aged between 55 and 59 have the highest levels of disposable income, making them an appealing demographic for advertisers. 

However, not everyone is convinced that a radio station playing such an antiquated playlist would appeal effectively to the target market.  

An industry commentator, who falls within this demographic, but preferred to remain anonymous, had this to say about the move: "Who are the idiots that make these decisions? Obviously not '50-69 year-olds who have a youthful, active approach to life'. If they have 'a youthful, active approach to life', then they’re not listening to Elvis, the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison or Dusty Springfield."

This comment has parallels with the accepted marketing notion that it's better to keep media messages younger, because those who are older don't want to be reminded of their age. 

In an article written for Contently,  Ann Fishman, founder of Generational Targeted Marketing, told writer Aliza Gans that "the number one thing that drives Baby Boomers is that they don’t want to be perceived as old ... "'Senior,' 'elderly,' and 'aged' are also some anti-buzzwords. Boomers resent being reminded that they’re over the hill."

Fishman then goes on to point out that even the adult diaper brand Depend uses celebrities in their 40s and 50s to target consumers who are usually older than 60.

However, this argument isn't accepted by everyone. In taking his usual position as the Devil's Advocate, Bob Hoffman wrote on his blog, The Ad Contrarian, that marketers are making a mistake in not targeting those older than 50 in accordance with their age. 

He points to the example of the Oldsmobile, which capitulated shortly after running a campaign with the marketing slogan 'This is not you father's Oldsmobile.' 

Hoffman goes on to note:

"Apparently, Oldsmobile thought it was a good idea to malign their real customers and flatter the people who would never buy their products. Why? Because their real customers were old, and everyone in advertising and marketing hates old people. It may have been the first time in the history of business that a company told its customers that their product was no longer for them. Marketers, it seems, would rather pander fruitlessly to young people than make real money selling things to old people." 

Hoffman is particularly critical of the car market, who he says "continue their idiotic habit of targeting people 18-34 for 'youth cars' despite the fact that 88 percent of the people who buy these cars are over 35."

According to Hoffman, many marketers refuse to target older consumers because of the fear that younger consumers might veer away from a product on account of it being perceived as old or uncool. This misconception, says Hoffman, overlooks the fact that people such as Barack Obama, Jerry Seinfeld and Meryl Streep are all older than 50 and living healthy, active lifestyles.

If this assessment is to be believed, then MediaWorks' new station could serve as powerful tool to reach the highest spending demographic in the Kiwi market. But, as Hoffman points out, the real challenge will be convincing marketers to tailor their messages to the actual target market rather than to the hypothetical boy racer that lies within.     

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