Written by Zweli Mokgata on September 7, 2011 – 4:24 pm – Financial Mail
Is the local radio advertising community being too critical about the state of its sector?
SA advertising agencies dominated the radio category at this year’s Cannes Lions advertising and communications festival in France. And radio entries into SA’s own Loerie Awards in Cape Town next week, are reported to have grown strongly. But speakers at the Radio Advertising Bureau’s (RAB) annual RadioWorks conference in Johannesburg last week were critical of the overall quality of advertising in a country where radio is the most pervasive and widespread medium.
RAB GM Gilda de Araujo says many advertisers continue to favour TV and print, then use radio as an afterthought. Productions are often slapped together at the last minute. “Some advertisers argue radio is not for their products,” says De Araujo. “They may use it for activations and direct-response marketing but not for brand-building.”
She concedes that some radio campaigns fail to deliver. But defenders of the medium argue this is self-fulfilling. A sub-standard campaign is bound to fail.
De Araujo says radio commercials must be developed in a more collaborative way. “It’s important to slow down and give some focused attention to the radio element of your campaign,” she says. “You need to involve the stations since they are the specialists when it comes to their community and listeners.”
Former 5FM DJ Mark Gillman says brands often get a better response by sponsoring programme content rather than placing ads. Radio is all about creating a relationship with listeners. “We give you great radio and you [advertisers] killed it. You gave me barcode competitions and hamper prizes.”
Creative radio specialist Tony Hertz says TV and print advertising have evolved but radio remains stuck in the past. “It’s not that radio is bad, it’s just that TV, print and outdoor are amazing. With these media you would not write the same ad as last year, but if you get a radio brief, the chances are that you’ll write the same ad that your father wrote 20 years ago.”
He adds that the problem is an international one, not limited to SA. One reason is that the marketing world is visual and screen-based. “We have developed some incredible technology over the years to deliver things visually, hence creatives around the world are not taught the skills of radio,” he says.
He adds that radio stations must share the guilt because they sell themselves as a quick, cheap option. That does not encourage creativity.
Barrett Whiteford, head of marketing for FNB’s credit card division, points to his brand’s series of 45-second ads featuring Steve, a telesales representative left speechless by knowledgeable consumers.
“If the ads are not working, you change them. You can’t use a paint-by-numbers approach bound to 30 seconds. Radio is more important than TV because you can get into people’s lives. We managed to get a great deal of interest from our ads, both positive and negative. Within two months our number of leads increased by over 1000%, new accounts were up 45% and we saw a 26% increase in new credit cards,” he says