SAO PAOLO: Mitsubishi, the Japanese auto manufacturer, and Oi, one of Brazil's biggest mobile phone operators, are at the forefront of a growing trend of advertisers running their own branded radio stations in the country.

Mitsubishi's station offers a mixture of music and talk, and is based on providing listeners with a "sense of adventure", discussing topics from rally driving and sailing to a recent feature entitled "Is your dad 4x4?"

The automaker delivers funding for the venture – which has been in operation since June last year, and is also broadcast on the internet – having developed the project in conjunction with Grupo Bandeirantes de Rádio and Agência África.

According to the company, this strategy "took us to a mass audience which we'd never done before. You make contact with your client or potential buyer, and they are constantly remembering the brand Mitsubishi."

SulAmérica, the insurance provider, also sponsors Rádio SulAmérica Trânsito, which provides music and traffic information for the residents of Sao Paolo.

The firm, which is best-known for its health insurance, opted for such an approach as part of its aim to increase awareness of its car insurance.

After launching Rádio SulAmérica Trânsito in February 2007, the company reported that it has climbed from fifth position to second position in terms of customer recognition in its category.

Oi developed the first branded radio station in Brazil, which took to the airwaves in 2005, in partnership with The Bel Group, a media conglomerate.

Oi FM is now available in nine different areas of the South American nation, including Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Recife and Sao Palo.

Antonio Rosa Neto, a media consultant at Dianet, an agency based in Sao Paolo, said "it is impressive how well branded radio works and it is really cheap."

Neto estimates that the 3,600 radio stations operating in Brazil attract a substantial audience, but take just 4% of all adspend, measured against the total of 60% held by TV.

However, he added that a single 30-second TV spot can cost as much as R$360,000 ($192,000; €137,000; £118,000), whereas a budget of R$500,000 would allow a brand to operate its own radio station for a week.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff