From Radio 1 to your high street: how Bruno took the shops by storm


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The Independent Online

That Immedia plc should have lost the Lloyds Pharmacy radio services contract is not the sort of thing that sends shockwaves through the stock market. But the forlorn words of the firm's chief executive raised one or two eyebrows among market watchers of a certain demographic. "Naturally we are disappointed to stop broadcasting Lloyds Pharmacy Live after nine years," said Bruno Brookes.

It is a long time since Bruno (real name Trevor) was the biggest thing on Radio 1. It is a long time even since he quizzed pupils and their headmasters on Children's BBC's Beat The Teacher. And it wasn't recently that he talked tackle with viewers on Sky Sports' phone-in fishing programme Tight Lines. But Lloyds Pharmacy Live?

"We provide music to 37 million people a week in the UK," Mr Brookes, now 52, told i.

"Finding music that suits your brand is more important than you think," claims the home page of Immedia PLC, which Brooks founded 11 years ago, and whose clients include HSBC, Top Shop and Ikea. As well as music, he also advises retailers on "tonality strategy".

"We try and explain what voice will best communicate with a brand's customer. What age, what gender, what socioeconomic demographic," he said, a topic on which he can fairly claim expertise.

Is there more than meets the ear about in-store music? "Well, that's a very complicated process," Mr Brooks explained. "Top brands spend many millions of pounds trying to create an image. First you have to understand who a brand are. What they are trying to achieve. Who their most sought-after market is. How they want people to connect with them."

It is six years since Immedia launched HSBC Live, an in-branch radio station designed to keep customers entertained, and informed, while they wait, and it has been a significant success. "Retail audiences are huge," he says.

Among Brookes' other offerings are LED digital signage, and "mobile marketing" – delivering loyalty promotions and incentives to customers' mobiles. All scarcely conceivable even by science-fiction writers when 16-year-old Brookes sent an audition tape to BBC Radio Stoke in the mid-Seventies.

"In 10 years' time, a trip to the shops will be very different," he maintains. "There'll be much more digital interactivity. We're seeing it already with Ipads, touch screens, and so on."

The loss of Lloyds Pharmacy Live, for what Mr Brookes said were "reasons unconnected with Immedia" has left his company's share price at a three-year low of 5.6p, but he is optimistic, promising that Immedia "will announce new business shortly".

Bespoke music consultancy might seem one of the more tempting things for financial officers to jettison. The good times, surely, must return at some point, however far in the future. But in the meantime, of course, they can always just stick on Radio 1.