Advertisers opt for radio debut

In the first of a series on commercial radio, the RAB reviews some advertisers that have made their radio debut in the past 12 months.

SBHD: In the first of a series on commercial radio, the RAB reviews some advertisers that have made their radio debut in the past 12 months.

Last year marked a milestone for commercial radio. For the first time, its audience overtook that of the BBC. And industry co-operation – such as investment in the Radio Advertising Bureau and the development of network packages – paid handsome dividends.

Commercial radio revenue grew at an annual rate of more than 20 per cent. The former "two per cent medium" actually took about four per cent of display revenue in 1994. Meanwhile, the drive to gain new respectability has been helped by a number of major blue-chip advertisers coming to the medium for the first time.

Four such advertisers indicate the variety of ways in which commercial radio can be used, through straight airtime deals or packages also including sponsorship or competitions – to meet a range of different goals.

Among the most significant from a long list of new radio users in 1994 were Lever Brothers’ brands Surf and Radion, through FCB and Ogilvy & Mather respectively. Media was handled by Initiative Media. In each case, the client quoted a desire to increase share of voice by exploiting new opportunities.

Surf and Radion benefited from strong creative work, says Initiative Media account manager Pippa Glucklich. The problems experienced by Lever with TV were well publicised; having turned to radio as a test, radio’s success means it will be used again in 1995, she says.

While media discussion on the National Lottery concentrated on how local press was being left out, local and national radio enjoyed a significant slice of Camelot advertising. Radio scored with its immediacy, the ability to measure the results and its cost-effective packages.

Radio also offered flexibility, enabling Camelot to remain responsive in the case of a (jackpot) rollover, according to Zenith Media.

American Express launched a national campaign in 1994, having tried radio for the first time locally in 1993.

"Radio helped us extend our message, making it relevant to customers at a local and personal level," says American Express UK advertising manager William Stredwick.

The arrival of Classic FM and, from next month, Talk Radio UK, has added breadth to commercial radio’s audience profile. And the case is proved by the arrival on radio of Jaguar.

J Walter Thompson devised a major airtime promotion for the launch of Jaguar’s XJ range. A sponsorship and airtime package on JFM ran alongside national activity on Classic. Jaguar now looks set to build on its commercial radio links in 1995.

With commercial radio’s first generic advertising campaign breaking later this month, the radio industry hopes to be the New Year resolution for even more marketers in 1995.

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