How local culture can build a strong brand and make the world a better place
Originally drafted on May 5, 2016. Published on September 10, 2017.
In a world where trends come and go, wouldn’t you like your brand to be so trusted that it’s taken as a given? That it becomes part of your city’s cultural wallpaper?
A show I enjoy listening to is called the Coodabeen Champions, which started on Melbourne community radio station 3RRR back in 1981. As of 2016, the programme is broadcast on the government-owned ABC channels for Melbourne (and is live-streamed as well). While I laughed at this show last weekend, it occurred to me just how thick the cultural humour it uses is, related to a very stable lifestyle centered upon Victoria and Australian Rules Football. While other cities have long-running radio shows, as described here (http://2ser.com/sample-page/) and here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Sporting_Life_(radio_program), it is not clear whether the audiences for these other shows have retained the same listeners over 35 years….are they as “sticky”?
The Coodabeen Champions show is mainly focused on Australian Rules Football, but also includes discussion of current sports events and news in a humorous manner, a quiz, song parodies, and a call from a fictional football publication. My favourite part of the show is a fictional “talkback” segment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE3OsKCgJMI). The “callers” are based upon stereotypes of both people from across Australia and of the supporters of the various AFL teams, examples of whom are listed below.
- Cliff from Clematis who always hears about rumours from someone who knows someone.
- Peter from Peterborough, an old money grazier who can solve all problems with "more discipline".
- Stan from Stradbroke Island who is fascinated by stat....st...st...facts and figures.
- Don from Davenport who has trouble interpreting some of the language used by commentators.
- Nige from Nth Fitzroy – a hipster type who supports whichever team is being ironic.
I think that this segment may actually be helping recent immigrants to develop a “cultural map” not only in relation to the game of football, but of Melburnian and Australian society more broadly. If many immigrants to Melbourne were (and are) exposed to this aspect of mainstream culture fairly early in their Australian lives, then perhaps the show actually appeals to Australians of all backgrounds…and this, in turn ensures the show is still relevant to a large audience so many years later.
Together with the Australian Football League, which puts a lot of effort into multicultural programs (http://www.aflcommunityclub.com.au/index.php?id=636), this radio show may well have helped to contribute to a virtuous social circle which benefits everyone in Melbourne and beyond.
I also think that the show remains important precisely because of its continuity - if much of the mainstream media is splintering into appealing to lifestyle based audiences, then it stands to reason that over time, the concept of “the mainstream” will fade. But if a radio show can help to bridge the gap between people of all backgrounds and age groups, then it has created something to be immensely proud of.
How does this relate to business? The appeal of the Coodabeen Champions is both wide (audience reach) and deep (audience engagement). I’m not sure what the answers are here for every business, but I’d argue that the points below may be worth considering. Is your business:
- Proactively performing a welcoming role to immigrants, or even just new arrivals, in your community?
- Focused upon something people can engage with at their own level, without being pushy or trying to sell stuff to people?
- Using humour as a gift freely given?
- Able to unite people in a common interest, regardless of their backgrounds?
- Giving people something to talk about, or to bond over?
- Able to tie the past and the present together in an effective way that doesn’t leave anyone feeling excluded?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, especially if there are similar long-running radio or TV programs where you live. What makes them special, and what makes them pass the test of time?