RADIOWATCH: Radio's reach grows - In our second Radiowatch of the Year review, Gail Kemp finds more blue-chip advertisers are turning to radio

There is no longer any doubt - radio is a force to be reckoned with. The fastest-growing advertising medium of the 90s, it is on target to repeat the performance in the first year of the new century, with projected ad revenue growth of about 20%.

There is no longer any doubt - radio is a force to be reckoned with. The fastest-growing advertising medium of the 90s, it is on target to repeat the performance in the first year of the new century, with projected ad revenue growth of about 20%.

Since its launch two years ago, Marketing's Radiowatch page has tracked a growing advertiser demand for the medium. Sponsored by Emap Advertising and based on interviews with 472 adult commercial radio listeners, Radiowatch is the only column to monitor recall of radio advertising on a monthly basis. It details geographic and demographic analysis and provides insights into radio creativity and media planning.

This, Marketing's second Radiowatch of the Year league, is based on the 12 tables published from December 1999 to November 2000. There are two main tables: the first examines total recall over the year, while the second measures the highest recall figures of the year.

While Radiowatch's ever-present telephony advertisers again dominate the highest recall figures table, drink/drive ads for the DETR and an anti-smoking campaign for the HEA, both created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, have made it into the top ten. Further down, national brands such as British Gas, Specsavers, Coca-Cola and Iceland have had high recall levels.

In short, Radiowatch proves that the radio ad break is no longer the preserve of niche players, but has become a truly blue-chip medium, both accountable and effective. Several giant advertisers are now investing in radio for the first time; this year, for example, Procter & Gamble used the medium for its Tempo and Charmin launches.

Earlier this year, the Radio Advertising Bureau funded research by Millward Brown that tracked recall of 17 major brands over six months. The work, called 'The Radio Multiplier', came out with three main findings.

First, if a client redeploys 10% of a TV-only campaign onto radio, the resultant campaign would deliver an average 15% more awareness than the original campaign; second, radio ads were evaluated as three-fifths as effective as TV ads on Millward Brown's Awareness Index, at one-seventh of the cost; and finally, some radio ads, namely those where the brand was an integral part of the creative treatment, scored awareness levels as high as those of TV ads.

These findings will come as no surprise to traditional radio enthusiasts, such as Carphone Warehouse, Vodafone Retail and One 2 One, which commit serious budgets - pounds 8.5m, pounds 7m and pounds 4.5m respectively - to the medium.

Carphone Warehouse

Carphone Warehouse, which tops both major tables, is the star of Radiowatch 2000 - and deservedly so. The company pioneered brand-building on radio and this year, having doubled its number of UK stores to 400 after its Tandy takeover and summer flotation introduced more TV onto the schedule.

Carphone's success is based on a consistent tone of voice and familiar music.

Radioville created about 450 Carphone ads this year - 200 for store openings, 200 for special offers and about 50 for three brand campaigns, the first of which starred Dennis Waterman talking about Carphone's 'no lemon' guarantee.

These brave ads did not mention Carphone by name, but the 'Get yourself connected' music was enough to generate the highest recall figure of the year.

In early summer, Radioville hired a host of stars to launch the industry's rather disappointing venture into WAP technology. The third big brand campaign of the year is now on air, as actor John Hannah stresses the 'simple, impartial advice' mantra.

Vodafone Retail

Radio remains Vodafone Retail's key medium, but because of the rising cost of ten-second slots, it shifted totally to 30-second ads. A reduced radio budget contributed to the brand's fall from first to second place this year.

Most of this year's ads continued the approachable, quirky style of Bates UK's previous campaigns, with consistency provided by music and voiceovers that also linked to Vodafone's TV advertising.

The radio work comprised tactical and branding campaigns, the most successful of which was last Christmas' 'You'll be a star' campaign. Eight ads used sound-a-likes for stars such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Barry White, and led to a record-breaking sales period.

While Vodafone says radio has served it well, it is considering broadening its media mix next year due to the changing marketplace, where there is almost total penetration and a shifting emphasis toward experienced users and 'network shifters'.

One 2 One

One 2 One broadcasts its ads mainly on FM radio stations to catch younger, more upmarket listeners. This year, radio was used both on its own and as a back-up medium for TV campaigns, such as the spring Zoe Ball ads, which scored One 2 One's top recall figure of the year.

While the 'Welcome to your world' Zoe Ball work supported text messaging, e-mail and international coverage, an earlier radio-only campaign launched the Simplicity tariff. The summer saw radio and TV ads for international roaming, while voucher longevity dominates One 2 One's Christmas 2000 radio campaign.

Perhaps its most interesting work was the autumn 'Reliability' ads which aimed to overcome One 2 One's traditional negative, network strength.

The campaign featured the sounds of Humberside fire station, Manchester Airport and Charing Cross Hospital, all of which use One 2 One.


Blockbuster changed agencies in 2000, ditching TBWA and handing its radio-only strategy to Doner Cardwell Hawkins, which gave the brand's 'Bringing entertainment home' theme a multi-media presence.

The switch led to an increased total budget, but a diminished, pounds 3m radio spend. Although the chain dropped a place from last year's table, the switch paid off overall, with Blockbuster claiming one of its best ever years.

The new campaign portrayed the emotional benefits of transforming an ordinary evening into a great night in with a Blockbuster movie. The radio ads lasted 40 seconds to build greater cut-through, and used the same sonic trigger and voiceover artistes as the TV work.

While some ads built on the brand, others promoted particular movies.

The campaign ran on alternate weeks throughout the year, primarily in drive-time, and was designed to catch infrequent movie-renters on their way home.

BT Cellnet

BT Cellnet, in joint fifth place, defines its core radio target as young mobile users. This year, it used its pounds 2m budget to sponsor Capital Radio's Flying Eye and broadcast high frequency advertising during breakfast programming.

Using a consistent voiceover and music, the brand's radio ads were designed to tie in with TV and press ads, with messages about value for money, mobile internet, handsets and tariffs. Additional ads supported tactical promotions, such as text messaging and cashback offers.


Compared with the other top five brands, Powergen is a newcomer to national advertising. Formed out of East Midlands Electricity two years ago, it is best known for its sponsorship of ITV's weather bulletins.

With a wide range of messages to convey, Powergen decided to stick with its marketing services agency Miller Bainbridge for a heavy radio strategy that would give it a strong ABC1 and small business audience.

Most of the radio work ran in May to June and August to September, raising Powergen's profile through consistent use of music, voiceover and sonic branding. The strategy paid off as the brand's radio awareness came a full 15 places ahead of British Gas and Powergen became the country's fastest-growing energy business.

TV licence evasion

TBWA's licence evasion work, at joint number nine in the main table, aimed to stress the three factors identified as critical to people's propensity to buy a TV licence on time: pressure (the likelihood of getting caught), priority (the importance of a TV licence as an urgent bill) and proximity (the sense that licence vans are policing one's own locality).

Under an umbrella strategy of 'they're everywhere' and on a budget of about pounds 1m, the radio business supported TV, posters and press work with 30-second ads regionalised for different areas.

The ads, humorous in tone to synergise with the rest of the campaign, were tested in January and then rolled out across the country.

TBWA says the activity has succeeded, with more calls in the campaign areas, increased radio recall and overall awareness and a greater sense of licence vans' proximity.

Many dotcoms have flashed in and out of Radiowatch during the year, but the most consistent has been, which is placed 13th in the annual chart.

Launched at the start of 2000, the mobile ISP only began advertising in April, but its work - created by new agency Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy - has achieved great awareness.

The TV campaign, occasionally criticised for being too vague, was designed to create intrigue and desire for, while the radio work has focused on tangible reasons to visit the site and particular services, such as text-messaging and WAP.

Eight different spots, aimed at 18- to 28-year-old 'sophisticated modern urbanists', have used the same line as the TV work - 'It's amazing what happens when you breathe'. The ISP's number of registered users grew from 200,000 in April to 600,000 in October.

Top creative agencies

Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO has retained its position as the top creative agency for radio, thanks to clients BT, Sainsbury's, Mars, Gillette, the RSPCA, the COI and the HEA.

With 29 mentions throughout the year, AMV is the clear winner. Specialist radio agency Radioville - with Carphone Warehouse and Coca-Cola as clients - grabbed second place, with 17 mentions. Both Radioville and WRCS - which owes much of its Radiowatch success to Camelot and Orange - have improved their performance this year.

Two new entrants are BMP DDB, which has worked on British Gas, Volkswagen and Nicorette, and St Luke's, which counts National Drugs Helpline, BSkyB and BT as clients.

Traditionally known as the '2% medium', radio accounts for almost exactly 2% of AMV's billings. But as agency executive creative director Peter Souter points out, 2% of pounds 400m is still a lot of money.

Radioville is the only specialist agency in the top ten, but founder Adrian Reith says: 'More clients are beginning to recognise that radio is different from TV advertising and requires special skills. It is a frequency medium that burns up a lot of ideas.'

Overall, the perception from all sides of the industry is that radio advertising is getting better and that creativity is improving.

But Souter warns against industry greed. 'The better stations are in danger of becoming over-packed environments that milk the advertising cow too heavily.' he says. As a listener, I don't mind listening to three ads in succession, but I don't want to listen to five, particularly if they are not that good. With more clients putting money into radio, stations should remember that quality and volume of advertising make a huge difference to listening pleasure.


The annual analysis of radio recall in association with emap

Rank 99  Brand            Agency/Buyer                     Total  Recall

                                                          recall     (%)

1    2   Carphone         Radioville/Matters Media          3272      60


2    1   Vodafone Retail  Bates UK/OMD UK                   2818      51

3    4   One 2 One        Bartle Bogle Hegarty/             2081      38

                          StarCom Motive

4    3   Blockbuster      TBWA/London & Doner Cardwell      1920      35

                          Hawkins/Booth Lockett Makin

5=   -   BT Cellnet       Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/         1045      19

                          The Allmond Partnership

5=   -   Powergen         Miller Bainbridge/                1033      19

                          Western International Media

7    9   Orange           WCRS/Media Planning Group          834      15

8    -   Coca-Cola        Soul, Publicis & Radioville/       796      14

                          Universal McCann

9=   -   Sainsbury''s      Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/          685      12

                          New PHD

9=   -   TV Licence       TBWA/London/New PHD                637      12


11   -   Specsavers       In-house/Carat & CIA UK            530      10

12   20  VW dealers       BMP DDB/OMD UK                     482       9

13=  -   Rover            M&C Saatchi/Zenith Media           460       8

13=  -   KitKat           J. Walter Thompson/MindShare       438       8

13=  -      Miles Calcraft Briginshaw          418       8

                          Duffy/CIA UK

16=  6   BT               Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/          410       7

                          Zenith Media

16=  16  Telewest         Saatchi & Saatchi, Claydon         409       7

                          Heeley Jones Mason/Media Insight

16=  -   McDonald''s       Leo Burnett/Starcom Motive         396       7

16=  11  Camelot:Lottery  WCRS/OMD UK                        373       7

20=  -   British Gas      BMP DDB/OMD UK                     353       6

20=  -   Virgin Mobile    Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe Y&R/  349       6

                          Manning Gottlieb Media

20=  -   Freeserve        M&C Saatchi/Walker Media           337       6

20=  -   Ford Ka          Ogilvy & Mather/MindShare          304       6

Radiowatch research is conducted by NOP Research Group (020 7890 9000). It is a weekly telephone omnibus survey among 472 commercial radio listeners aged 15-plus. Advertisements are selected by Xtreme Register (020 7871 8080) and Emap Advertising (020 7295 5000).

Top 20 highest scores

Rank Brand               Agency/Buyer                  %       Fieldwork


1    Carphone Warehouse  Radioville/Matters Media     72  Feb 18-20,2000

2    One 2 One           Bartle Bogle Hegarty/        63  Mar 24-26,2000

                         Starcom Motive

3    Vodafone Retail     Bates UK/OMD UK              62  Feb 18-20,2000

4=   BT Cellnet          Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/    58  Sep 22-24,2000

                         Zenith Media

4=   Vodafone Network    BMP DDB/OMD UK               58  Oct 20-22,2000

6=   BT Internet         Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/    55  Apr 14-16,2000

                         Zenith Media

6=   DETR drink/drive    Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/    55  Jan 21-23,2000


8    HEA anti-smoking    Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/    51  Mar 24-26,2000


9    Blockbuster         Doner Cardwell Hawkins/      48  Aug 25-28,2000

                         Booth Lockett Makin

10=  Orange              WCRS/Mediapolis              47  Dec 17-19,1999

10=  National Lottery    WCRS/OMD UK                  47  Dec 17-19,1999

10=  TV licence evasion  TBWA/London/New PHD          47  Jan 21-23,2000

13=  McDonald''s          Leo Burnett/Starcom Motive   45  Apr 14-16,2000

13=  British Gas         BMP DDB/OMD UK               45  Sep 22-24,2000

13=  BT                  Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/    45  Oct 20-22,2000

                         Zenith Media

13=  Virgin Mobile       Rainey Kelly Campbell        45  Sep 22-24,2000

                         Roalfe Y&R/Manning

                         Gottlieb Media

17   Specsavers          In-house/Carat               44  Feb 18-20,2000

18=  Diet Coke           Publicis/Universal McCann    42  Jun 23-25,2000

18=  Coca Cola           Radioville/Universal McCann  42  Apr 21-23,2000

20=  Iceland             Finch Advertising/           41  Jun 23-25,2000

                         MediaCom TMB

20=  VW Dealers          BMP DDB/OMD UK               41  Feb 18-20,2000

Top performing creative agencies

  Rank    Agency                          No of mentions

2000 1999                            in Radiowatch Table

1    1    Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO                    29

2    5=   Radioville                                  17

3    5=   WCRS                                        16

4    4    Bates UK                                    15

5    3    TBWA/London                                 13

6=   -    BMP DDB                                     10

6=   9    J Walter Thompson                           10

8=   5=   Bartle Bogle Hegarty                         8

8=   2    M&C Saatchi                                  8

8=   10=  McCann-Erickson                              8

8=   -    St Luke''s                                    8


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