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, 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.
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, 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 Breathe.com, 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 Breathe.com, 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
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
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
9= - Sainsbury''s Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 685 12
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= - Breathe.com Miles Calcraft Briginshaw 418 8
16= 6 BT Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 410 7
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
3 Vodafone Retail Bates UK/OMD UK 62 Feb 18-20,2000
4= BT Cellnet Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 58 Sep 22-24,2000
4= Vodafone Network BMP DDB/OMD UK 58 Oct 20-22,2000
6= BT Internet Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO/ 55 Apr 14-16,2000
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
13= Virgin Mobile Rainey Kelly Campbell 45 Sep 22-24,2000
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
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