While everyone is hailing the radio as a medium that has made a dramatic comeback in India, there is a dearth of talent in the industry. With more than 300 stations expected to come up in the near future, industry players are doing their bit to make the best of the opportunities that this industry has to offer. However, much needs to be achieved in the space of advertising and brand building through radio.
Radio in India is considered more as an entertainment-centric medium and less as an informative and brand-building medium. One of the key reasons that radio advertising is at a juvenile stage in India is lack of strategy and forcing an ad to adapt to radio. As Pushpinder Singh from Saints and Warriors believes, the advertising fraternity is excited about radio, but they sometimes try too hard to advertise on radio, making it more of a forced activity rather than a creative expression. Singh said, “Advertisers see radio as a growing medium, but not a lead medium.” This is perhaps why listeners consider radio advertising as unnecessarily frequent and loud.
Another challenge the radio industry poses for advertisers is lack of visuals, thus making aspects like creative idea and engaging script more critical. As radio stations have no distinct identity, ads on radio are easily invisible. Advertisers and brand owners who have not taken into account these significant aspects of advertising on radio have committed nothing less than brand hara-kiri, while those who have explored these aspects are enjoying the benefits of successful brand building through the radio.
One of the key benefits of radio advertising is that your message has no simultaneous competition while on air. Unlike outdoor or Internet advertising, radio listeners can listen only to your message when you are connecting with them. Steve Martin, On-Air Editor, BBC World Service, said, “Radio is a fun and profound medium that shares an intimate bond with listeners. Brands should communicate with listeners in a simple and easy manner. When your message is on air, radio offers it undivided attention and this is why you don’t have to shout to be heard on radio.”
Martin added, “Listeners consider radio jockeys as friends and when a radio presenter talks about your brand, it is as good as a reference from a friend to buy a particular product. This makes radio advertising very powerful.” He further said that good radio advertising was about clean strategic objectives, entertainment, emotional connect with listeners, engaging scripts, relevant ideas and genuine benefits for consumers.
Martin also gave an example of radio advertising in the UK, which is mature and ready for the next wave of sales and promotions. Brands such as cosmetic giant Cliniquè have used sales and promotions by tying up with weather reports and traffic reports on radio to promote Cliniquè products that protect skin from harsh weather and pollution.
In India, Marico is one company that has aggressively used radio advertising (for Silk and Shine, Parachute Advanced, Saffola and Parachute Hair Therapie) to build brand identity. Sugato Gupta, Head Marketing, Marico Ltd, said, “Radio is a versatile medium. Radio advertising is beneficial as it is a frequency booster, it complements other media, is capable of reaching a mobile audience, has local flavour, engages listeners, and goes beyond your 30-second TVC.” Products like Amaron and Lexi Pens, too, have used radio to effectively push forth the brand’s message.
While radio advertising is still at its infancy, an encouraging sign is that radio ad spend in India is up by 38 per cent Y-O-Y. Commenting on the role of advertisers and players in the radio industry, Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, said, “Industry players have to find new ways of involving audiences and come up with new content. While the industry is growing rapidly, radio is still facing challenges from traditional and new media. There are also rigid policies like no news and current affairs and no multiple licenses being given to a station in a single city. However, all is not lost as radio offers the freedom to operate at low cost and is a local and interactive medium.”
There is no dispute on the fact that radio is a powerful and effective medium. Advertisers who are looking at radio advertising should not force their creative ideas made for other mediums on radio and instead use the medium to their advantage. As there is nothing intrinsically wrong with radio as a medium, advertisers need to also realise that good advertising is good advertising and bad advertising is bad advertising, irrespective of the medium.