Please be informed that the IPA offices will be closed Friday 4th August.
We will respond to you as soon as we return on Monday 7th August.

Listening out for radio insights

Listening out for radio insights
With 35 million weekly listeners and more than 300 stations, UK commercial radio offers scale and variety to advertisers. Yet the potential to use the platform to create flexible and influential branded messaging and content is sometimes overlooked.

Radiocentre’s 2013 ROI Multiplier study revealed that the average return on investment for brands that advertised on radio was £7.70 of revenue for each £1 invested.  The best performing campaigns were those which stood out, fitted well with the brand, and communicated clearly.

Despite solid evidence of ROI and near-record levels of reach, the medium’s advocates believe it is still under-invested in and suffers from preconceptions about creative limitations and its role in the wider media mix.  

To mark Radiocentre’s sponsorship of the 2016 IPA Effectiveness Awards, therefore, three industry protagonists were asked to describe how they used radio as an effective platform for brands.

1. Wickes & the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show

Kevin Webb, Group Head, Bauer Radio, writes:

Sponsorship of The Absolute Radio Breakfast Show (presented by Christian O’Connell) give Wickes a platform to deliver an association to two of its core audiences; tradesmen on their way to their first job and a more casual DIY audience.

This, coupled with radio’s immediacy and Absolute Radio’s commitment to deliver integrated branded content, are key factors in why Wickes continue to choose us as the linchpin of its radio investment.

Wickes constantly challenges us to take brand integration to new heights. Combi-drills, paint, flooring and shelving aren’t things which many radio personalities could weave into its programming. However, Christian consistently achieves this through a unique blend of promotions, features, conversations and cleverly constructed stunts.

It’s not just moments like ”Tool Do You Do” -  a competition in which listeners call in and impersonate individual power tools - which are laugh-out-loud funny, it’s about the moments when Christian and his side-kick Richie go off-script, putting their lives into the content.

What elevates the content even further are long-form story arcs, like Brek-Fest and Christmas Panto  which create weeks of talk-ability and demonstrates how we integrate Wickes into the fabric of the show.

Take, for example, our ideas around self-assemble benches. To celebrate a deal on the benches, we created “The Wickes Shelf-Help Group” and asked listeners to share their DIY nightmares by submitting photos. A rogues’ gallery of mini DIY disasters was displayed and every Friday we called two of the best to battle it out on air and win a Wickes voucher. The Breakfast team also managed to integrate the bench into the overall feature with presenter Richie and Wickes employee Adrian demonstrating live on air just how ‘easy’ it is to build a bench.

The emotional connection we have created between the brand and its potential customers, a desire to use radio’s qualities as a live, intimate medium, and our willingness to embrace a new way of naturally integrating key messaging into editorial, explain the partnership’s success and continuation.

Results* over the last 4 years are overwhelmingly positive. Eighty per cent of those aware of the sponsorship ‘liked’ the campaign with 75% agreeing it was an appropriate fit for the programme. As a result of the sponsorship, 35% feel a more positive association to Wickes. *(Source: Carat  ICE study) Econometrics demonstrates that over 10m worth of sales can be attributed to this activity in 12 months.

Two people are integral to this relationship; Christian O’Connell and co-host Richie Firth. They attend the client meetings and spend hours writing trails. Without their energy and creativity, this would simply be a badging exercise.

2. Pedigree & K9FM

Neville Doyle, Planning Director, Colenso BBDO writes:

Marketers have a natural obsession with the new and being first, but sometimes it is the forgotten about channels that offer the most interesting challenges. This was very true for PEDIGREE in New Zealand for whom we made ‘K9FM’ - the first radio station created specifically for dogs, with hours of unique content all aimed at man’s best friend. It was the first radio campaign in 32 years to be honored by D&AD with a Black Pencil.

The truth was hiding in plain sight, in front of everyone that has ever grown up in a household with dogs and whose parents would leave on the radio when the dogs were home alone to ‘keep them company’. This is a behaviour that is common to all dog owners and yet the ‘innovation’ at the heart of K9FM was simply the identification of this behaviour and creating something that would tap into it. Of course, as with all great radio advertising, what truly elevated the campaign was the quality of the writing – I defy anyone to listen to segments such as ‘Talkies’ and ‘Where is the ball’ and not laugh out loud.

The idea of K9FM was to not only create something that would genuinely improve the lives of dogs, but that would also create an emotional connection between the dog owners and PEDIGREE. At the heart of the brand is a simple, but powerful, purpose – make the world a better place for dogs (and that goes beyond just their nutritional needs).

Within a month of launching, at a time when no other activity was running, sales of PEDIGREE in New Zealand spiked to a 3 year high, and remained at this level for the duration of the campaign.

And what can other brands and marketers learn from K9FM? For one, that radio has an ability to connect like few other media channels. There’s no other channel that relies so greatly on the writer’s skill, their ability to craft a story. In many ways, radio ads are to TV ads what a book is to the film; allowing you to tell a story in a way that coaxes the listener to bring it to life in their own mind.

3. BT & radio as a driver of brand and business

Interview with Graeme Adams, General Manager, Media, BT

BT has increased its radio advertising budgets by 20 per cent year on year because of the medium’s ability to drive sales momentum and increase product consideration for its consumer businesses - BT TV, BT Sport, BT Mobile and BT Broadband.

BT’s radio ads are linked to its TV ads, with tongue in cheek use of celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds (BT Broadband) and Alec Baldwin (BT Mobile – see below), by featuring the same voiceover and talent on both TV and radio. With creative from AMV BBDO and media by Maxus, the company’s current series of ads features a variety of Hollywood and sports stars parodying the advertising process. Last year presenters from across Global Radio’s network also created a number radio spots tailored for specific stations.

A prominent piece of the company’s strategy is based around sponsorship of Global Radio’s Capital Radio breakfast show in its 13 versions, including its flagship London show. The deal aims to reach the younger end of our target 18-44 demographics via sponsorship and spot ads which for BT Sport, for instance, will typically focus on promoting the number and quality of football fixtures available to BT Sport subscribers.

Adams says: "Part of the reason we are interested in this deal is that we get to spend longer talking about the products and getting some form of on-air endorsement from DJs in a longer format. It feels natural when the DJs talk about our products.”

To evaluate the effectiveness of its radio advertising, BT uses tracking that measures changes in brand health, messaging awareness and product consideration. A combination of econometrics and regional testing is used to assess the role of advertising in generating sales momentum.

Adams adds: “We weren’t using radio five years ago, however, we did a variety of regional tests on radio and built it up to current levels. With the current media mix and the way we are doing the radio creative, we now have a formula that is working for us.”

For more on the effectiveness of radio advertising, visit




Last updated 19/07/2016

Contact the IPA

ABCe audit Offical Webby Awards Honoree (2011, 2013)

Website, membership and content management software by Senior
Creative design by Igentics

© 2018 IPA. All rights reserved. No part of this
site may be reproduced without our permission.