Lucy Barrett explains the motivations behind Radiocentre’s latest ad campaign, calling for advertisers to see radio differently by imagining it as a new technology.

With the rise of new audio formats such as podcasts and streamed music services, listeners and advertisers have more options than ever before. We call it the “Audio Revolution” and it’s being assisted by the rise of the multi-function mobile, voice-activated devices, and the fact that audio content is, for the most part, “device neutral”, so people can listen to almost anything, anywhere, and at any time.

With more people listening, radio accounts for three-quarters of all time spent with audio, so we like to say that it’s the underlying factor in this revolution. Radio, and commercial radio in particular, is thriving. The last year has seen record audience figures, record revenues, and a record numbers of stations available to listeners.

With facts like these, why does radio need to advertise?

Ebiquity’s 2018 study ‘Re-evaluating Media’ highlighted a discrepancy between perceptions and what the evidence says about the effectiveness of various media. The performance of radio, which ranks a close second behind TV on the evidence, was one of the most strikingly undervalued media, coming in only sixth according to the advertisers and agencies interviewed. Radio’s share of advertising spend is a small fraction compared to its share of total time spent with media.

With this as background, we briefed The&Partnership to create something for us to get media decision makers to see radio differently. A campaign that to make them sit up and take notice, challenge dated perceptions, and ultimately lead to more ambitious use of radio advertising.

An ad for any medium needs to appeal to anyone involved in the media planning process: from the marketing executive writing the first draft of a new brief to the CMO reviewing the final plan; and from the agency’s chief strategy officer considering how to generate greatest effectiveness for the client to the account manager selling back the media plan. This campaign couldn’t be just amusing and surprising it had to ultimately make them feel great about our medium, be proud to use it, or question why they weren’t using it.

But media planning decisions, like most decisions, are mostly formed on the back of emotions and rationalised afterwards. Unlike the population at large, media decision makers are far more likely to listen to on-demand audio services over radio – and this dictates which medium will be most front of mind when they are in media planning mode. Even if it manages to make it onto their radar, their personal experience tells them (wrongly) that radio is old-hat, analogue, and dying… and therefore has no place on a media plan in 2019.

Yan Elliot, Executive Creative Director of The&Partnership, hit upon a concept we loved. Commercial radio has been around for over 40 years so it’s easy to take it for granted, so make people think of radio as technology that had just been invented.

It was a brilliant idea. Everyone gets excited by tech launches and Yan wanted to create a campaign that would prove that radio is every bit as exciting and adaptable as new tech. We went with it and planned for it to go live in the Autumn to capitalise on the hype of new tech launches at this time of year from companies like Apple and Samsung.

Running on radio and out-of-home, we have ads in the style of a tech launch, welcoming people to radio, showing them the many advantages commercial radio has over other, newer, media technologies. These include: radio’s impressive reach with 36 million adults engaging with us every week; radio’s low ad avoidance, something that is a growing problem for others; and we have even focused on some irks that lay at the feet of digital display advertising such as the constant demand to “Accept Cookies”.

There is a social campaign (catch it if you can) making fun of the nation’s love of ad skipping and scrolling. Unlike pious technology ads our campaign is intended to be funny, but we are making a serious point about the medium’s reach, flexibility, and effectiveness.

Our desired response is threefold: if you aren’t using it then why not? If you are using it, great because radio is really strong and you are in good company – so be proud. And finally, empower people to propose and support more ambitious use of radio for their brands.

It continues to be an exciting time for radio as the medium embraces (and dominates) new technology like smart speakers that are helping to build the momentum around audio. This campaign will remind advertisers that radio lies at the heart of the audio revolution, encouraging them to feel proud of their radio advertising campaign, safe in the knowledge that not only will it be heard, it will be heard by tens of millions at the moments that really matter.

We hope it gets more advertisers tuning in to this most effective of audio advertising technologies.