Urban radio personality Tom "Fly Jock" Joyner may not be a household name in the marketing suites of Corporate America. But an innovative pact with consumer-products giant Procter & Gamble (PG), the nation's largest advertiser, could soon change that. Joyner is host of The Tom Joyner Morning Show, the most widely syndicated urban radio show in the nation, reaching some 8 million listeners in 115 markets.
In an effort to bolster its appeal with African-American consumers, on June 14 P&G inked a marketing deal with Joyner's Dallas-based Reach Media, which owns the radio show and other media ventures, that goes well beyond the usual 30-second spot.
In addition to running commercials on the radio show, P&G will sponsor and promote a broad array of on- and off-air Joyner-related initiatives. Those include regular show features like Thursday Morning Mom, a salute to mothers, and daily soap opera It's Your World, as well as annual special events such as the 2005 Fantastic Voyage Cruise and "Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day." Joyner and his on-air team will also interact on air with P&G products, which include Tide, Charmin, and Bounty, in what the Cincinnati-based company calls "endorsement radio."
The influential Joyner, who earned his moniker flying between Dallas and Chicago from 1985 to 1993 to do daily radio shows, is a longtime advocate of social causes in the African-American community. Under the arrangement, P&G will also support several of Joyner's outside interests, including the Tom Joyner Foundation, which raises money for students at historically black colleges and universities. In addition, the P&G/Joyner pact includes a study to measure the effectiveness of urban radio and its ability to boost sales.
Joyner's deal with P&G could open a new chapter on how companies target and market to African-American consumers. BusinessWeek Dallas Bureau Correspondent Stephanie Anderson Forest recently spoke with Joyner about the P&G pact and its implications. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation:
Q: How did the P&G deal come about?
A: By doing a lot of hustling and a lot of knocking on doors, trying to spread the gospel about the power of the African-American consumer dollar.
Q: And, you've been doing that for a quite a while, right?
A: Yes. We've been knocking on doors for a long time, for about 10 years now. Part of our everyday routine is to convince advertisers that there are dollars in African-American communities, and they should invite our communities to spend their dollars with them.
Q: Why do companies have to be convinced of the power of the African-American consumer dollar? [The University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth estimates it will jump from around $688 billion in 2003 to some $921 billion by 2008.]
A: I'm not sure. We show [companies] the data and the research. Some get it right away, some don't get it right away.
Here's a perfect example: All those years I was flying, chalking up all those miles between Chicago and Dallas on American (AMR), we never got an American account. Or a guy like me would have been perfect as a pitchman for them. But we [his radio show] pitched them and pitched them, and we never got anything from them until after we had some success with Southwest (LUV).
Southwest was the first [major marketer] we convinced of the power of the African-American consumer dollar. We convinced them that we could put some black bodies in plane seats.... We finally got a sponsorship from American right before 9/11 -- but right after that they stopped.
Q: Similarly, P&G is trying to entice more African-Americans to buy its products, right?
A: Yes. But P&G is more like a partner with us. From Day 1, we have sought partnerships. We wanted partners, not people to just come in and advertise. We want partners who share our vision and our purpose of encouraging education, motivating our communities, and improving life for people in the black community.
Just like Southwest and P&G are involved with us on different levels, that's what we try to do with all of our advertising partners. General Motors (GM) is another one. When we partnered with GM a few years ago, we were pushing the Oldsmobile brand. They not only advertised on the show but they gave away cars as part of our register-to-vote drive.
Q: What does this P&G pact mean for urban radio?
A: This is a huge deal for urban radio and for other black media outlets, including print and TV.... Hopefully, this will open doors for everybody.