Friday, September 5, 2008

Lessons from Lux Radio Theatre

clipped from www.unilever.co.uk
Lux header image
clipped from en.wikipedia.org

Lux Radio Theater, one of the genuine classic radio anthology series (NBC Blue Network (1934-1935); CBS (1935-1954); NBC (1954-1955)) adapted first Broadway stage works, and then (especially) films to hour-long live radio presentations. It quickly became the most popular dramatic anthology series on radio, running more than twenty years.

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The Lux Radio Theatre brought Hollywood shine to Lever Brothers’ Lux soap. Originally broadcast from New York City, the weekly radio program took on new life after Danny Danker, a JWT executive, suggested moving it to Hollywood and hiring well-known stars to perform high-quality shows based on hit movies of the day. Hosted by the legendary Cecil B. DeMille, the program was a big-budget extravaganza complete with full orchestra and sound effects.

Lux lives on as a Unilever soap brand, and the old radio shows are still available in podcasts and downloads. Lux Radio Theatre was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.

Here’s what I admire about Lux Radio Theatre as a marketing vehicle:

- Brand loyalty. Every show explicitly thanked listeners for their loyalty, which permitted Lux to continue sponsoring quality radio entertainment week after week.
- Brand benefits. Scripted live commercials mentioned specific brand benefits, such as “mild for your hands” and “good for your complexion.”
- Celebrity association. Headliners linked Lux with the most famous actors of the time: Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, and on and on.
- Publicity. Paying up to $20,000 to stage a high-quality weekly radio program was newsworthy during the Depression and WWII. Lux was truly deluxe.

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