life as you don't know it

When spending time with the family is an exercise in branding

TripleM is having a family day at Lunar Park. Initiated by the ‘Grill Team’ (breakfast show) in response to the sad death of Kristian Anderson; which raises an important question:

Are you for real Austereo, or is this a marketing exercise?

It could be legit; there is some evidence that Geyer is a good bloke, and possibly the other boys too. Or it could be a cynical exercise in market positioning, which seems to be more likely. So following the standard operating procedures of all the great crime shows, lets investigate:

Firstly, there is apparent motive: The overall positioning for the program is at the boofy end of blokey, aimed at the archetypical Western Sydneysider - the type that exists in market research data that apparently proves that the vast majority of people who know where St.Clair is also wear checked shirts, have mullets and drink VB.

The Luna Park gig seems to be the perfect opportunity to nuance their positioning with feminine touch.

Secondly, there is the opportunity: The program often offers risque content and there is distinct likelihood that the program may be alienating families and chicks (as they are fondly referred to in programming meetings.)  With advertisers being so jittery about Kyle & Jackie O’s show, the timing could not be better. (Both radio stations may belong to the same stable, but I am certain they have a brief to compete – and they would rather keep the ad dollars under their banner than see it flow to an external competitor.

When they chanced upon the sad story of a young guy dying from bowel cancer, the opportunity to show the ‘softer side’ of the blokes (for commercial reasons) would have been tempting.

Thirdly, the evidence: The death of Kristian was sad, I am sure, for all who knew him and those who could relate, but calling it a tragedy smacks of media hyperbole, not compassion. As experts in communication you would know that a ‘tragedy’ is defined by that great dictionary in the cloud as either:

[] An event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

[] A play dealing with tragic events and having an unhappy ending, esp. one concerning the downfall of the main character.

I don’t think either of these applies.

Furthermore, in my mind there is just a hint of exploitation. When a dying person expresses the desire to (have spent) or spend more time with their families it is because they are fearful and lonely. They want the one thing they can’t have – and being able to spend time with your loved ones would be a reinforcement of the fact you are alive.

When you have to deal with your impending death, you (and your family) are experiencing the most traumatic end emotional imaginable.

I did not know Kristian, so I am not speaking for him; but generally speaking – and thinking logically, wanting to spend more time with loved ones is a selfish act borne out of fear of the unknown. 

Before you send hate mail: I don’t know why Mr Anderson really chose to make his suffering and his dying wishes public. I have said nothing and intend to say nothing about that. But is no justification for TripleM to turn it into a band wagon to ride to Luna Park via the hearts of Western Sydney.

I may be grumpy cynic, but I will believe their efforts are legitimate (albeit misguided) if they can tell me that Austero or the presenters are paying all costs and they did not hit up sponsors for cash or in-kind donations.

In which case I would apologise for casting aspersions. Except for the part of not knowing what a ‘tragedy’ is. They really should know better.