Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Radio ad dials your phone ...

I accidentally discovered this in the 1970's when I had recorded an interview, complete with dial tones and then played the tape back with a phone line open in the studio.  It dialed the phone!  Makes sense: a tone is a tone is a tone, whether it's generated electronically internally or played back from a recording medium, externally, into the handset.

It occurred to me that there might be some use for this phenomenon in a station promo or two, say, in a pitch for the request or contest lines. Might add a new dimension to phone contests.

"Hold your phone handset to the radio...here come the Win Your Way To Financial Freedom tones!"

Station management disagreed and my big idea got dumped.  What's sad is that it took three-plus decades for somebody else to work it up again.  Hope it works for them.

From MediaCreativity:

Hungry? This Radio Ad Dials Your Dinner Reservation

Amy Corr, May 03, 2010 04:00 PM

Whoever said radio was a dead ad medium never had their phone dialed by a radio spot. Can a print ad make dinner reservations? I don't think so.

Hotel Arena is a hotel with a restaurant, bar and nightclub in Amsterdam. The hotel wanted to increase bookings at its restaurant while creating awareness for the brand as a whole.

The agency wanted to make it easy for people to make reservations. So they took the phone dialing out of the equation by making a radio spot that broadcasts DTMF (dual-tone multi-frequency), or tones that communicate a phone number to a landline phone.

The tone, in this case, connected listeners to Hotel Arena's restaurant, and the only thing listeners had to do was place their phone, with dial tone present, in front of the radio speaker. Check out a tutorial here.

"When this Hotel Arena job came up, we thought, how can we make a radio spot interactive," said Dylan Berg at THEY. "Could we actually use the energy of the radio waves themselves to make something happen? One of our guys is also a DJ and one night he discovered a DTMF generator. He realized it worked just like old dial-up modems, where the number was 'dialed' only by sound. Bingo! Why only tell people to call for a reservation, when you can actually dial the phone for them."

DTMF technology is rather simple to use when converting telephone numbers into DTMF tones. You enter the phone number and it spits out the tones.

Adding the DTMF tones to the radio spots added no additional cost to the campaign, since it's essentially just sound across airwaves.

The campaign certainly suits lazy people. Let's hope that someone too tired to dial the phone to make reservations has enough energy to actually leave the house and eat that dinner.

Hat tip to JC Corcoran.