Friday, September 5, 2008

Lessons from Lux Radio Theatre

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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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