You’re sitting in your car in peak hour traffic on your way home listening to two idiots talk about ‘crazy things their ex’s have done’. You can’t see them but you know they’ve got heads like dog poo because they’re radio announcers. If they were good-looking they’d be on TV.

The only exceptions to this rule are Hamish and Andy. The fact that Andy dates supermodel Megan Gale is probably enough evidence he hasn’t got a face like a shrivelled piece of fruit. The thing is though, you’re still listening despite the fact it’s all drivel. And that is what makes the stations money. You little statistic you.

Luckily for the ugly ones, radio listeners are very loyal. Most generally pick a station and stick to it and, thanks to Melbourne/Sydney/Dubai’s traffic problems; we often end up listening for hours.

It is also an emotional media. We tend to get attached to the people and actually want to know what their husband/wife said in bed last night. It makes us feel better about ourselves. These little, personal aspects connect us as humans.

However, there are some shocking radio ads out there. Think droning voices or high-pitched squeals that are equally painful to listen to, or people trying to imitate animals or tacky American accents. And I am soooo sick of the telephone voice treatment used on anything to give it a more ‘interesting’ twist, but when everything has it….

Although it’s possible to run a successful radio campaign, and God knows many do, there are a few issues with radio as an advertising medium that ought to be discussed.

  1. Why is it so hard to build a brand on radio? Is it because it lacks the visual aspect? Can it really be successful in a sphere other than as a retail driver?
  2. Commercial radio stations are generally very similar – I defy you to define the difference between FOX and Triple M for instance – so where is the scope in selecting a target market? Stations need to differentiate themselves and stop being so blinkingly unoriginal. I liked Nova when it first started, but it’s now simply another FOX with different characters.
  3. There is also the issue of appropriateness of ads. Children and 40 year olds are going to be listening to the same station. How do you handle complaints from a tearful mother that her eight-year-old daughter knows all the words to a premature ejaculation ad?
  4. Where have all the jingles gone? They are a fantastic marketing tool but have virtually been ignored in recent years due to apparent intellectual snobbery. Jingles are one of the easiest ways to define a brand and get people to remember it.

The reality is that radio can occasionally be a quite cost-effective way of advertising. It is one of the most powerful rapid attack forces for business and can hold its own against its big brother, TV. Or can it? Comments?