Pandora Is Building Branded Radio Stations That Offer On-Demand Listening

Propel runs a fitness-themed campaign

Propel created music stations with fitness influencers. Pandora
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After unveiling a three-tiered business model in December to compete in music streaming, Pandora is now incorporating parts of its subscription-based Pandora Premium service into advertising units.

Gatorade-owned Propel is launching a campaign today that offers users who listen to fitness-themed stations the chance to listen to a handful of songs on-demand.

Propel worked with fitness influencers to create three branded radio stations. Fitness and wellness coach Gideon Akande created a hip-hop and rap station, Nicole Winhoffer curated a pop and hip-hop station that focuses on cardio workouts and Vanessa Packer picked indie and electronic music for her station.

“It’s the first time that we’ve ever used fitness influencers to actually curate the sounds of these stations,” said Susan Panico, svp of strategic solutions at Pandora. Panico said the campaign is the first time on-demand streaming has been built into an ad since Pandora’s subscription service launched last year. “Each fitness influencer helped curate their own station. On top of that we leveraged the Music Genome to flush out that experience.”

According to Gina Hardy, senior marketing director of Gatorade at PepsiCo, the brand first worked to find fitness influencers and coaches in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Denver as a way to connect with exercise fanatics. “We scoured those markets for these up-and-coming influential fitness instructors—they’re sort of like local fitness celebrities,” she said. “There’s nothing like that class where they have the great playlist. We thought we would tap into them with their musical knowledge about what can get their clientele through a hard workout.”

The brand also worked with musician Jessie J to create a custom song called “Get Ugly” that’s prominently featured in the three stations. While users listen to each station, a “power up” button will appear on the screen that lets users save the song so they can listen to it on-demand as often as they want. Each influencer picked an additional “power up” song that are designed to “get you through that next level if you’re feeling a little low,” Hardy said. Display and audio ads for Propel will also run in each station.

Pandora’s Panico said that the goal of the campaign is to increase time spent within a branded station. “It’s not always about the click,” she said. “It’s also about the value of driving time spent with the brand and when you have a custom station like this, it really will create a sticky factor to drive that time spent listening that’s time spent for the brand.”

The digital campaign also fits into a shopper-marketing program. Retailers including Albertson’s, Safeway and Target are running a promotion where consumers who buy more than $3 of marked products can receive a two-month subscription to Pandora Plus, which usually costs $4.99 per month.

“This is something a little new for us,” explained Hardy. “We don’t always have music partnerships permeate into the offline channel but this was one great way where we could offer shoppers ad-free music on Pandora Plus. It’s a very easy way for us to integrate and bring that music into the offline and retail space.”

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.