The social media campaign against Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands will, ultimately, fail and the influence of these two broadcasters remain undiminished.

That’s despite what a producer at 3AW in Melbourne says about the chattering voices in “that big town” of Sydney. Jones has “never been so naked and huddled in the cold wind of public hate” says Justin Smith in today’s Fairfax papers.

“For decades, his tongue has been like a razor gliding across the face of Sydney – sometimes it left a clean, smooth surface; sometimes it left the victim spotted with blood and specks of tissue paper,” writes Smith.

Nice turn of phrase. I’ve worked with Justin and I hold him in high regard, professionally and personally.

However, this is not the reality of how consumers engage with brands. Successful brands understand that they are not in the 100% game. They will survive the baptism and fire of media – be it social or mainstream.

Jones and Sandilands don’t require everyone to be passionate about them. More importantly, it’s critical that they don’t even try to be universally loved.

Successful brands know that it is vital that people feel something about them. That people disliking your brand is to be welcomed – as long as you have a core of people who are passionate supporters. This means you stand for something. That you have an ‘est’. (In marketing terms it means a “uniqueness”.)

It is invisibility, and ambivalence, that brands must avoid.

Alan Jones and Kyle Sandilands are examples of brands who understand that they are not in the 100% game. It is not a negative that hundreds of thousands of people “hate” them. All that matters is that a decent proportion of the (roughly) 500,000 listeners to their respective shows each week are passionate about “Brand Sandilands” and “Brand Jones”.

To generate this passionate “love” and “hate” requires pushing the boundaries. Occasionally that means they cross the line.

Sandilands has made some appalling comments – the verbal attack on the journalist, the Magda Szubanski slur. Jones has done the same on numerous occasions, and the controversy over the (off-air) Gillard comments has been inflamed by his completely disingenuous apology.

I am not defending the comments. They were offensive, and both broadcasters deserved to be held to account for them.

However, the paradox of orchestrated social media campaigns – driven by people who are generally not listeners to either show – is that when they attack Jones or Sandilands, they are reinforcing the passion that the core fans feel for the show and for the personality.

Criticise Kyle for being edgy or inappropriate?

You reinforce to his core listeners why they choose to listen to him.

Criticise Jones for speaking his mind and attacking anyone who disagrees with him?

You reinforce why his core listeners choose to listen to him.

In the sporting world, whenever someone criticises Manly for being a team of silvertails, or Collingwood for being a team supported by bogans, it strengthens the “us against the world” bond that their fans have with those clubs.

Collingwood have been smart about how they have leveraged this. A few years ago they distributed a bumper sticker saying We Hate You Too alongside the Pies logo in their colours. Their membership campaign in 2012 was it’s us against them. Clever.

Manly fans have used the Everybody Hates Us, We Don’t Care mantra, borrowed from the UK’s loathed Millwall football club who wear it as a badge of honour.

“No one likes us, No one likes us,
No one likes us, We don’t care.
We are Millwall,
Super Millwall.
We are Millwall from The Den.”

 It’s not about achieving 100%. And it works.

Almost every caller that Jones put to air following the Gillard story was gently rebuking but strongly supportive; “I think you said the wrong thing Alan, but you’ve apologised and I still love your show”.

Clearly the producers call-screened very well, however there is no doubt that the core fans were defending their under-siege patriarch.

In the most recent Nielsen survey, Jones and Sandilands Breakfast shares were well ahead of their competitors in “time spent listening” (TSL).

(Although, given “share” is not an indicator of “share of listeners”, but rather “share of listening”, the Jones figures are inflated by the impact of TSL given 2GB’s older profile. Forgive the radio jargon.)

Jones’ ratings are spectacular – as are Sandilands’ (with Jackie. O) – and neither has been, or will be, impacted adversely by the social media campaigns against them.

To be fair, these campaigns do have a short-term impact on revenue, and a corresponding positive impact on their competitors revenue. However, the revenue always returns.

Every criticism reinforces why the core fans choose to engage with “Brand Jones”, “Brand Sandilands”, Collingwood or Manly. Every attack reinforces the core fans membership of the “club”.

The orchestrated social media campaigns would do well to consider that it is not a 100% game.

There is only one way the stated goal of the social media campaigners to have Jones and Sandilands sacked can occur. That is if their ratings become uncompetitive.

Ultimately, this will happen through the changes in the landscape ( a better newcomer appears), or the natural life-cycle of shows ( Jones and Sandilands lose their edge) however, at this point there are no signs of listeners moving away from either of them.

Ironically, the existence of these social media campaigns is strengthening the core listeners passion for the respective brands, and thus ensuring their survival.



*Dan Bradley is a director of Radio Today, Kaizen Media and Collective Music, and is Chief Brand Director for The Retail Zoo. You call follow Radio Today on Twitter @_radiotoday

The original version of this article appeared here.


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  • Reply October 25, 2012


    I am sure you are right that the attack will fuel the passion of the rusted on listeners. I mean what else have they got in their lives if they listen to that rubbish? What is an unknown is the degree to which the taint of being associated with Jones on other brands is a long term phenomoen. If they stay away, it is over red rover.

  • Reply October 25, 2012

    Wendy Harmer

    This is a very interesting article for everyone who is pushing a “brand”. “All publicity is good publicity” goes the phrase. Maybe, these days,not all publicity is good, but perhaps shows you why you have to take the hits as well as the applause when you step out on the stage.
    Interesting to get into the mind set of a marketer.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    This defence of the marketing strategy behind what Jones and Sandilands reveals much of the reason why they and more particularly Jones is in the situation he is in at the moment.

    Marketing as described here is an amoral exercise totally divorced from ACMA broadcast standards, the community pulse [zeitgeist] and even strangely enough, economics. If the bottomline in radio is really the bottomline, then profit protection and profit maximisation would be the rational marketing response.

    Macquarie Radio Network posted a modest operating profit of $8.3 mill in 2011-12. Jones is the 4th largest shareholder so occupies an ethically difficult position as the star, an employee but also, an important owner of MRN.

    MRN advertising revenue loss from the Jones show is conservatively estimated at $80,000 a day [insiders say its closer to $500,000 a week] which means technically insolvency in 16 weeks or thereabouts. As MRN is a publicly listed company with strict ASX listing rules applying to it and its Directors are required to be compliant with the Corporations Act which include, amongst other things, not operating while technically insolvent, there is far, far more at stake here than an old style take no prisoners marketing strategy.

    There are also significant ASX and ACCC penalties for publicly listed corporations who endanger the value of the enterprise by favouring one shareholder’s interests over others, or by allowing an employee to repeatedly engage in behaviour that places their revenue and indeed broadcast reputation and licence in danger.

    I would be very interested in asking the Directors of MRN if they have formally advised ASX that this campaign is having an effect on their projected profit for 2012-13. Directors of publicly listed companies have a legal duty to inform the regulator about such events as they have a foreseeable effect on their bottomline.

    Old style marketing strategies described here – the love/hate dichotomy – is so last century, shortsighted, fails to take into account the true dimensions of all the damage.

    Advertisers are unlikely to forget for example Jones snarling turn on Mercedes Benz and/or the information that leaked out during this campaign that Jones audience is 150,000 – versus online anti-Jones +250,000 in a few weeks, Jones audience is mostly over 50, mostly rural or outer western suburbs.
    Larger or monied advertisers who re-advertised on the Jones program have almost universally claimed the ads were run during the Jones who without their permission and fled again. Questions are being asked not only as to whether those advertisers can claim compensation for damage done to their reputations by these ads, but also about the links between the third party advertising firms who have allowed this to happen. There are a lot of long standing links between those advertising firms and key 2GB/MRN figures.

    As for Sandilands – I look at the fit, energetic young man who started in radio in Sydney and his weekend interview with Mike Willesee on the weekend and you know what – I think of another toll the clever marketers have failed to factor into their “it works” mantra. And that is if the shock jock is so depressed, ill and unable to turn up for work consistently, what good is the marketing?

    • Reply October 25, 2012

      Pam Newton

      What Chris said.

      It’s been fascinating to watch the response to the success of the “Destroy the Joint” campaign. It’s been either – oh, these things are so ineffective, until it wasn’t, and then the response changed to – it’s an assault on free speech, free enterprise etc.

      This article suggests that anything less than having Jones sacked is a failure. Well, apart from the fact that sacking, has not been Destroy the Joint’s aim, there are other outcomes.

      Jones stays on air, keeps his rusted on listeners, and has no power to heavy politicians into dancing to his tune or to stir up social violence, lie about science and he loses the sponsorship of big name brands who feel that *he* is no longer a brand they want to associate with.

      And it seems that this is already happening.
      The Incredible Shrinking Man

      When the Emperor’s new clothes were mocked, there’s no evidence he stopped being Emperor, but it’s fair to say no one took him seriously anymore.

      • Reply October 25, 2012

        John August

        Pam – agree 100% – sacking Jones is not the only worthwhile outcome, as I note on my article on the law crime politics website ( ) – reduced power and advertising scope would count for a lot.

        It’s not about who listens – its about how people who *don’t* listen are willing to change their buying habits. That changes the appeal of the advertising.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    Fair enough, i agree, which is why i have always thought that the best reaction was to ignore them.
    Nonetheless, i am glad about the outpourings of indignation on occasional cases of particularly offensive acts for the fact that it does help the rest of society connect over their notions of boundaries of common decency.
    The uproar and financial inconvenience does, i think, act as a small check , and in the case of Jones i think his nexus of power is damaged beyond repair.

    • Reply October 26, 2012


      Sally, you’re so right, sending him to Coventry (ignoring him) is one way, but the only thing that matters to these people is money.

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “hit them where it hurts, in the back pocket” now the nasty little man screams that he’s being bullied – he should know, he’s dished out enough of it.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    Thank you Chris. Amoral it certainly is.

    I would be very surprised if this doesn’t finish Alan Jones off but that’s just my instinct kicking in. Why am I always surprised that men lke him gain such power over others. Is it just the voice, the spiel, the confident arrogance.

    As for Sandilands – I shake my head.

  • Reply October 25, 2012

    Les victor

    Many people, marketers in particular, underestimate the power of social media. Lists of recalcitrant advertisers on 2gb are being compiled as we tweet. Expect ongoing boycott

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    Just like a storm, it will move on. Sometimes shock-jocks are only there to deflect attention away from other headlines.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    Rule of marketing – appeal to as wide an audience as possible with the intention of increasing that appeal and thus, increasing the popularity of the product. The opposite seems to be happening here – the “pool” is decreasing. Yes, there is a core of diehard fans and no doubt they will always be there.
    Social media creates awareness – definitely not a bad thing – and even though the majority lodging protests are not fans they do have a right to express their views when the product being promoted is as tainted as it is.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    I disagree. I don’t think we’ve ever seen such a targetted and effective use of people power before, so I think this is a new paradigm. Destroy the Joint have stopped over 80 companies from advertising during the Alan Jones show and have monitored them for days to keep them honest. Jones will still be a brand, a big mouth, a well recognised spokesperson but his power has been significantly reduced. Who knows what people power will do next now that these new muscles have been discovered?

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    here’s hoping for a “convoy of no confidence” out the front of 2GB with some “jeer the queer” signs. it’s all ok as freedom of speech, right?

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    I think people in a position to set the tone of social discourse should be thinking of who is watching and listening – the younger generation. Is that what we want them to become?

    Enough is enough.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    What Chris said.

    The marketing methodology described here is so – dull, sordid, dated. No wonder 2GB is in the trouble it is in if this is the sort of marketing expertise on offer.

  • Reply October 25, 2012


    Cath the only person who would say that a rule of marketing is” to appeal to as wide a group as possible” is someone who has no concept of marketing.
    I dont agree with the author that jones will come out unscathed but the pbasic principles that he has outlined are spot on.

  • Reply October 25, 2012

    William Marshall

    Now I know why the Phelps family love the Westboro Baptist ‘Church’ that is definitly a case of us against them, luckily, in that case the ‘them’ is right! sorry for mentioning the name of that ‘church’ here

  • Reply October 26, 2012


    Alan jones was ignored for an awfully long time, by an awful lot of people, and yet he STILL wouldn’t go away. Now I’m hoping if we take away all his toys he might find another sandbox.

  • Reply October 26, 2012


    Turns out there wasn’t much of a brand in the first place, the audience numbers were exaggerated. What a surprise.

  • Reply October 26, 2012


    Chris is so right to call it old style marketing strategies. Social media has changed the game.

  • Reply October 26, 2012

    Caroline B

    I’m with Tony. If I was an advertiser I wouldn’t touch either of these shows with a 40 metre pole. For every rusted on Jones or Sandilands lover there are probably at least 20 who loathe them & everything they represent. There must be more ethical & cost-effective ways to reach the Lowest Common Denominator than these crusty dinosaurs, surely….

  • Reply October 26, 2012


    What Chris said.

    Dinosaur blokey marketing strategy for dinosaur blokey 2GB management. Suggest there’s marketing going on but its not directed to the radio audience but the 2GB decision makers. Problem – its a starkly aging, low income, low discretionary expenditure small audience. Got to laugh at the advertisers reeling in Mercedes Benz to market to the 150,000 Jones listeners with this profile.

    I would love to know more about the links between 2GB management – many who come out of advertising – and those advertising firms flogging Jones radio spots to businesses. Most businesses caught advertising on this show after stating they would not have all given the same explanation – that the advertising company they hire stuffed up and agreed for their ads to return to 2GB without their knowledge or consent.

    Now – either there are rogue advertising companies in Sydney deliberately flouting their clients wishes and positions articulated in their Press Releases in which case would they not be sacked for gross disobedience OR something interesting is happening between those advertising companies and 2GB which make them feel it is worthwhile to risk their clients ire and possible dumping. Alternatively the explanation about the rogue advertising companies committing these errors [en masse? all over Sydney? at the same time?] is a cover story worked out in advance between the players so avoid the mud sticking if the return to 2GB goes pear shaped – plausible deniability I think its called.

  • Reply October 26, 2012


    People either like or dislike these two, no middle field.

    • Reply October 27, 2012


      Yes Glenis, but apparently just how many people liked Jones was an exeggeration – go figure, more lies,

  • Reply October 27, 2012

    Tara Nipe

    Mr Jones’s power lay in his conviction that he wielded it, and the belief of others that this was (or is still) the case. Politicians showed up to either genuflect or be harrangued because of the perception that this was better than the risk and consequence of either rebuffing Mr Jones or calling him on his egregious behaviour.

    As Pam pointed out above: like the Emperor, he may well still be a broadcaster but that air of influence? Not so much.

    And that’s where I think the real effect of Destroy the Joint will show – that politicians and others will no longer feel impelled to appear, nor to sit meekly by when insulted, over-ridden and derided.

  • Reply October 28, 2012

    Tony W

    “To be fair, these campaigns do have a short-term impact on revenue….However, the revenue always returns.”

    Those big national companies are gone for good, they have bigger markets to worry about than Jones’ pissant audience. Brand Jones may still be strong with those cretins but it’s toxic everywhere else in Australia now. Suggest you get busy cold calling local businesses.

  • Reply October 28, 2012


    Chris, you’re either seriously misinformed or being deliberately deceptive.
    1. Alan Jones doesn’t have 150,000 listeners – at the last survey he had 442,000 in Sydney alone. (And contrary to what your similarly misinformed friend Smithy states, it is, in fact, a very affluent audience)
    2. 2GB would only be losing $80,000 a day if they had zero advertising on the Alan Jones how. Last I checked they had heaps of advertising.
    3. Destroy the Joint & Sack Alan Jones Facebook pages only have just over 20,000 likes. More people may visit the pages for a laugh but they’re not liking the page so clearly don’t agree with the page’s sentiments.

    And Pam, I wouldn’t put a lot of credibility in an article featuring in a paper owned by the same organisation as 2GB’s main rival 2UE

  • Reply October 28, 2012


    And one more thing, Chris, ads are booked by media agencies and not advertising agencies. You really are totally clueless.

  • Reply October 28, 2012

    Tony W

    “here’s hoping for a “convoy of no confidence” out the front of 2GB with some “jeer the queer” signs. it’s all ok as freedom of speech, right?”

    Count me in Mikey, I’ll bring along some “bag the fag” placards. Chaff bag of course.

  • Reply October 28, 2012

    Tony W

    “Interesting to get into the mind set of a marketer.”

    Not really, although I’d be interested to know if Draper has any pecuniary interest in “Brand Jones”, and how far he’s prepared to see him “push the boundaries” before his own moral judgement kicks in – assuming he still retains any vestige of morality. Surely marketers don’t have to sell their souls completely do they?

  • Reply October 29, 2012


    Anyone that thinks social media is ineffectual has their head stuck in the sand. Mumsnet forced Rupert Murdoch to close UK based “News of the World” in a matter of days.

  • Reply November 1, 2012


    Chris, I thought your point on Sandilands was interesting. You implied that for all his so-called success, he appeared depressed and unwell in a recent interview.
    Is this what you were saying?

  • Reply November 15, 2012


    I love Allan Jones,, he pushes the envelope YES but he also does a lot of good for different causes in the community, he speaks his mind and if that offends some well that is the listeners issue, we choose to be offended the same as we choose not to be we can also choose to not listen if we are that precious. I see him as a very intelligent free thinking individual, he doesnt bend to the masses just to be popular, and in this day and age where everyone is expected to be oh so nice and politically correct I find him so so refreshing. As for Sanderlands,,, well I am lost for words,, he too speaks his mind,,,, but most of it comes out as uneducated un intelligent
    dribble,,,,, He will be around for a long time, because there are a lot of people out there who are of a very similar mind set.

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