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‘Creative strategy’ case of Radio in Vietnam

By Nguyen Ngoc Phuong Trang S3324479

Radio in Vietnam? Is it still alive?

It is expected for this kind of question pops up in your mind since Vietnam has a small market for radio in communication field especially the urban area to other medium such as: television, internet, mobile phone, etc. However, with 72% of population living in rural (Trading Economics 2010) considered as potential customers, there still chance for radio development in this digital age. This it what I realized after having an interview with Ms. Ngo Suong, sale director of Tri Viet Media (HTV3) and former sale director of XoneFM, an music focused radio channel. So how did she differentiate her channel? It required a lot of soft skills and creativity. These below cases that I note down will be good the examples.

XoneFM is a radio channel run over 10 frequencies in all 64 cities and provinces in Vietnam. The channel has brand-new format in the industry with 60% of foreign music, 30% of Vietnam music, and 10% of advertisement (XoneFm 2013).


Rural population (% of total population) in Vietnam (Trading Economics 2013)

Close up

‘Close up’ has chose XoneFM as on of their main medium for 3 years.

“At first, it was hard to convince Close up to become our sponsor because we do not have relevant data for audience rating”, stated Ms. Suong.

To overcome this obstacle, Ms. Suong and her team commit to do research using telephone survey about listener behaviors towards Close up product. All questions are always approved by client before coming to action. The questions are simply about demographic information and how listeners know about Close up product.

“It is not a difficult task, but it made client feels respected and recognized our effort”, added Ms. Suong. After that, XoneFm broadcasted the program called ‘Let Love Rule’ sharing the concept of couple and love stories on air. This successful method is the initial step to the long-term relationship between XoneFM and Close up.


Close up ‘Let Love Rule’ campaign in XoneFM (XoneFM 2013)


Besides Close up, the biggest mobile network operator in Vietnam – Mobifone – also has long-term relationship with XoneFM. Mobifone is good example on how did Ms. Suong sale multiple sponsorship for current client. Back at that time, Mobifone has already sponsored for ‘Breakfast Show’ for 1-2 years. The show airs from Monday to Friday morning, and directs to officers and businessmen.

Based on her research, Ms. Suong was aware that Mobifone want to target more customers from lower class, include students and workers, Ms. Suong realized that it was a good opportunity to sale more sponsorship.

Following, she analyzed Mobifone advertising expenditure and proposed that investment on radio advertising would only occupy 0.3% of their annual budget (about 6 billion VND) and pursued them to buy another package together with ‘Breakfast Show’. ‘Top 40’, a show airs on Saturday and Sunday afternoon with the target of teenagers and young adults, was recommended.

When client surprisingly asked “Why did you recommend two programs, when normally one was enough?”

Ms. Suong confidentially answered, “Because I know that although you aim to new target, you will not miss your current customers. These 2 shows run through the week will keep Mobifone in listeners’ mind.”

Consequently, the contract ended up with the deduction from 6 billion to over 5 billion VND for both packages per year. It was a win-win situation for both sides as Mobifone was very satisfied with the negotiation and still keeps the good relationship until now while XoneFm has successful sold sponsorship of ‘Top 40’, the show that had never been sold before.

“My point is you must understand your clients strategy and product then you could insert its key message. It helps them sell their products and you sell yours” said Ms. Suong.


Current sponsors of XoneFM (XoneFM 2013)


The story of MTV EXIT made an interesting case study though they only run short-term advertisement. MTV EXIT is a charity campaign towards human trafficking. As this stage, they offered a media sponsor package for non-profit. They already successful in convincing VTV3, still Ms. Suong has refused the proposal.

Her reason was XoneFM is not a big channel compared to VTV3 so at least MTV has to cover up the production cost. Thence, she offered a new method; XoneFM would only have to pay 10% of the actual cost which is about 4-5 thousand dollars.

Answering for why did she make this deal, Ms. Suong stated that she knew their position in this circumstance since MTV Exist directs to rural people, radio would be more efficient than television. 10 percent is only to ensure for production cost. Moreover, the fact that MTV Exist brought some famous singers and group like Super Junior, Click Five, etc to Vietnam definitely enhances the channel reputation.

Here are some useful tips from Ms. Suong

“Always seek for win-win situation. Take one step back, and you can move two steps forward.”

“Make good deal with reasonable price. Don’t make your clients bargain too much, it becomes a bad habit and ruins future relationship.” – affordable deal with deduction from 5-10% is reasonable.

“Yet creative is important, but reality is more significant.” – know your disadvantages, as for XoneFM does not have rating, Ms. Suong overcomes this obstacle by providing more relevant researches. On the contrary, XoneFM has advantage of rural listeners.

“Put yourself in a hard shoe, you will have more thing to learn.” – Try something more challenge will result in more valuable experiences.


Me & Ms. Ngo Suong (Photo taken by author)

Word count: 898




Trading Economics 2010, ‘Rural population (% of total population) in Vietnam’, Trading Economics, viewed 2 January 2014, <;.

XoneFm 2013, homepage, XoneFM, viewed 31 December 2013, <>.

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