By: Jill Forkal

While ad agencies are looking for the next best thing, one effective medium has fallen by the wayside—the radio.

According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, radio still reaches 93.5% of Americans 18 years and older and 59% of listening occurs while driving. Allstate, the second largest auto insurance company in the country (according to the Insurance Information Institute), is hoping to revamp radio advertising and reach out to this large population.

While Susan Credle, Leo Burnett’s chief creative officer, calls radio a “terrifying medium,” it’s important that advertisers do not simply reuse television ads for radio. Allstate is using different methods by sponsoring traffic updates and utilizing helicopter reporters by allowing them to pick a “good hands route of the day,” which plays off the insurer’s tagline “You’re in good hands.”

On a different note, nonprofit organizations bought 41.7% more radio spots in 2010 than they did in 2009, as seen in the New York Times. Radio advertising is significantly cheaper than television ads and appeals to nonprofits. However, the number one company to employ radio advertising in 2010 was Geico, with 2.2 million spots.

RadioFace of New York offers these tips for radio advertising:

1)    Think in sound. “We’re very sophisticated listeners. We’ve been alive for awhile listening to things,” said Tony Mennuto, RadoFace’s creative director. “We know authenticity from not.” For instance: If the ad is set in the suburbs, “you should be able to hear the little sound of lawnmower going by.”

2)    Use improv actors. They will go off-script to create funnier ads. “When you’re using improv people and you’re not reading a script, you come up with all those little nuances and sounds and great comedy,” Mr. Mennuto said.

3)    Record on location. RadioFace cited a spot plugging a Nike-sponsored running race that was recorded in Central Park. Multiple microphones captured the sound of the actors breath and feet, plus picked up natural background sounds.

4)    Warning: Things sound differently on the radio. For instance, if you slap someone, it sounds like a “click,” while running water sounds like white noise, Mr. Mennuto said.

5)    Write shorter copy. This will give you extra time to play, adding sound effects or ad libs, for instance.

*Geico radio advertisement:


Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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