The Annual 2004: The Year in ... Radio

Douglas McArthur reflects on a year when consolidation overshadowed the Rajar saga, Contract Rights Renewal and the growth of digital. No review of the year in radio would be complete without a reference to consolidation - so let's start there. The planned GWR/Capital merger is certainly the biggest thing to have happened to radio since I came into the industry in 1992. Since the 2003 Communications Act became law, it doesn't seem to have been possible to read anything about radio in the City pages without consolidation swamping the story. There's been a rumour to suit every taste: Emap has been just about to buy SRH; Chrysalis is going to tie up with GMG; SMG has been talking about Virgin with other radio groups, and so on. And all of this with the prospect of Clear Channel waiting in the wings.

On balance, I think consolidation will be a good thing for the advertiser.

I think the doom-mongers forecasting that a powerful radio group will hold advertisers to ransom is just nonsense. Radio has built its business for more than a decade on listening to customers and helping their advertising investment become more effective, not by bullying advertisers. And the idea that it is OK for two huge, aggressive ITV companies to merge, but not for two radio relative tiddlers, is just a joke.

I hope that a merged GWR/Capital station will be able to offer higher programming investment and thereby win audience from the BBC. I hope the new company will create more programming environments with larger critical mass and mould a new way of exploiting the opportunity of radio beyond traditional spot advertising.

Away from consolidation, if you only want to read one paragraph, then this is it: commercial radio has had a successful year, looks like having a good 2005, but faces real challenges to continue its upward growth curve.

Excluding internet advertising, which didn't exist ten years ago and so has growth percentages calculated from a trivial base, radio has been the fastest-growing mainstream display medium over the past decade, by a mile.

Obviously, a review of 2004 is necessarily backward-looking, but I think I'd rather use what happened in 2004 to project what might happen in 2005.

In 2004, radio broke through the 7 per cent share of adspend and was finally discovered by FMCG advertisers as an effective advertising medium.

We saw Procter & Gamble and Lever in the radio top ten, and if the 440 advertisers attending the Radio Advertising Bureau's October Advertiser Conference are anything to go by, there is huge interest in making radio a larger part of their media mix.

The only bad things that I can think of were the trading turmoil in TV caused by the Contract Rights Renewal mechanism, which slowed radio's growth in 2004, and the trials and tribulations of Rajar.

CRR for ITV has not been a good thing for radio. Broadcast buying departments, which already allow radio only a small slice of their attention, have been forced to give even greater consideration to TV because of the complexity of the CRR system. As a result, I believe that some revenue that might otherwise have flowed into radio has found an easier home at Channel 4 and five.

Rajar has had a tough time defending its methodology and results and maintaining the support of both broadcasters and advertisers. Kelvin MacKenzie said that he wasn't interested in radio, only in The Wireless Group. His competitors have taken a different view, appreciating that fundamental changes in methodology require deep testing before implementation. The new research methodology must be as bombproof as possible.

So, what of 2005? I predict Rajar will move steadily towards digital measurement as we move into a digital world. Radio will have to work hard to rectify the damage done to its trading currency by self-interest and misinformation.

I also forecast that 2005 will be a tipping-point for digital radio. DAB digital radio receivers will hit a distribution of 2.5 million sets and the penetration of digital radio through the TV set will continue to grow.

However, the most positive challenge for the radio business in 2005 will be to continue the creation of more radio ads to be proud of. I'll explain what I mean by talking about the "brand of radio advertising". There isn't really a brand of radio advertising, but humour me.

I feel that the RAB and the radio industry have been marketing radio advertising in a very rational way for 12 years - through facts, figures, training and effectiveness studies. We cannot stop such work, but if the brand of radio advertising is going to keep growing, it needs emotional rather than merely rational underpinning.

To me, that simply means that people in the industry need to like more of the ads on the radio and that agencies need to produce more radio ads they are proud of. This is an ambitious objective and it will be a long haul, but we are investing a lot in radio to be proud of and we like the look of the early indicators. After all, it wasn't media marketing that made the 48-sheet poster medium desirable. It was a series of radical 48-sheet posters from CDP in the 70s.

I am optimistic that whoever writes a radio review in 2005 will be reporting an industry-agreed plan for audience measurement development, growth in advertising share and more ads to be proud of.

- Douglas McArthur is the chief executive of the Radio Advertising Bureau


1. Travelocity "inside your radio"

Featuring Alan Whicker claiming he's coming from different parts of your stereo, complete with amusing high-pitched voice when he's in your tweeter. Winner of the Gold Award at the 2004 Aerial Awards.

Agency: Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy

Creative team: Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp

Agency producer: Russell Taylor

Facility house: Wave

Sound engineer: Aaron Reynolds

The Script

Alan: Hello, Alan Whicker here. Ever get the impression that I've been everywhere? Well, it's true. I have been everywhere. And today I'm going to be everywhere inside your radio.

(Out of left speaker) Here I am in your left speaker to tell you that Travelocity offers a Fare Watcher service, which can find you the right flight at the right price.

(Out of right speaker) And here I am in your right speaker to tell you that when you type in where you want to go, Fare Watcher will e-mail you updates on the best deals.

(Really bassy) And here I am in the woofers to say

(Really, really high-pitched) And here I am in the tweeters to say hello world.

FVO:ATOL protected.

2. Super Noodles "can't be bothered"

Featuring a lazy hippy mum juxtaposed with a "super" dynamic mum who gives her kids Super Noodles, this spot encapsulates the humour of the award-winning Super Noodles campaign and its seriously high production values.

Agency: Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

Creative: Robert Clayman

Agency producer: Vanessa Butcher

Facility house: The Tape Gallery

Sound engineer: Andy Maclennan

The Script

We open on the sound of didgeridoos and trancey techno. It's a summer festival! A confused, dippy, hippy-sounding woman is talking:

Crusty: Crusty Noodles are the wholefood alternative for mums who don't like being, like, tied to their kids.

Kids can make their own dinner, man. They're, like, separate beings.

Rules are ... bad.

Er ... yeah ... flavours ... look, let's not impose roles on them.

Flavour's in the mind.

Crusty Noodles ... for mums that can't be ... er ... bothered ... y'know?

(Alt: Make Crusty Noodles and take a stress pill, like, y'know?)

We then hear a jingle not unlike one from an 80s Mattel ad:

Jingle: SU-PA MU-UM!!!

We then hear a gritty male Vo. He talks like an American wrestler.

Mvo: Super Mum!! The action doll who fights for justice AND makes really nice dinners!!!

Kids: Hurrah!!

Mvo: Super Mum has real effect hair and utility belt complete with Batchelors Super Noodles in Ham and Cheese, Spag Bol and Chicken flavours. See how she puts them on a plate with sausages, fish fingers and chicken!!

Jingle: SU-PA MU-UM!!!

Mvo:(read as legal) Batchelor's Super Noodles. Not named Super for nothing!!

3. Nesquik "French"

Deserved to win two awards at the annual Aerial Awards, this spot uses perfect casting and production to create great comic effect at the end.

Agency: McCann Erickson

Creative team: Jana Pejkovska, Enoch Lam

Facility house: Angell Sound

Sound engineer: Rob Townsend

The Script

Teacher: (with a perfect French accent) Au revoir.

Simon: (badly) Oh revwoar.

Teacher: (corrects) Au revoir.

Simon: Oh revwoar.

Teacher: Rrrrrrrrrr.

Simon: Rrrrrrr.

Teacher: Au revoir.

Simon: Oh revwoar.

Vo: After a hard day's school, a glass of milky Nesquik really satisfies.

Teacher: Au revoir.

Simon: Oh revwoar.

Happiness quick with tasty Nesquik.

4. Pimm's "Notting Hill revised"

Hilarious use of the toff from the Pimm's TV ads, which depicts him showing up with his hamper and Pimm's in the middle of the Notting Hill carnival.

Agency: Mother

Creative team: Darren Bailes, Al MacCuish

Agency producer: Emily Quinney

Facility house: The Factory

Sound engineer: Anthony Moore

The Script

Jingle: It's the summer of Pimm's, with Harry Fitzgibbon Simms ...

Fvo: At Fitzgibbon Towers, our hero Harry and his old friend Holland are preparing to go to a party ...

Sfx: Vacuuming.

Harry: Stop vacuuming the drive Holland, Geoffrey and Claudia have invited us to a soiree in Notting Hill!!!

Fetch the horse and trap - we're off to London!!!

Holland: Yes sir.

Sfx: Musical bridge, then clippity clop, clippity clop, Notting Hill Carnival - sound system playing.

Harry: Wowzer!!! They know how to throw a party! But look - no-one's drinking Pimm's. Pffewf!! We'll soon change that!! Open the hamper Holland!!

Holland: At once sir!!

Harry: Hello there!!

Man: Irie!!!

Harry: That's right - Harreee!! Do we know each other? Hang on! An old pal, 200,000 thirsty guests, one of me - I make that Pimm's o'clock, don't you?!!

Sfx: Ice in jug, swoosh of lemonade gun, chinking of glasses.

Harry: Cheers!! Have you seen Geoffrey or Claudia by any chance ... I really must say hello!

Man: I feel irie with my Pimms and I'm a ragga ragga tearing the place down!

Harry: Geoffrey in one of his moods, is he?

Sfx: Laughter from everyone in Harry's vicinity, more chinking of glasses.

Jingle: It's the summer of Pimm's, with Harry Fitzgibbon Simms

Fvo: Anyone for Pimm's?

Man: Yeah, pass me one there woman!

5. Somerset Drug Action Team "drugs:myth"

Winner of the best charity ad at the annual Aerial Awards, it features a voiceover from a dispassionate drug dealer relating a story of how he advised friends of an overdose victim to shut the door on her.

Agency: GWR Creative

Creative team: Paul Marshall

Agency producer: Neil Hocking

Facility house: GWR Creative

The Script

Notes: Mvo1 is straight, deadpan, neutral, non-judgmental by Ronnie Leek. Mvo2 is Robbie, a recovering addict.

Mvo1: Don't believe the myths regarding drug overdose ...

Mvo2: I phoned up my drug dealer one day to score and they said to me:

"Have you ever dealt with someone with an overdose before?"

And I said: "Yeah, why?"

They said: "Well, we've got this girl in our room now turning blue,what shall we do?"

There are a lot of myths around what you should do. My advice to them at the time, 'cos I didn't care about me, I didn't care about them really ... I just said: "Have you tried hitting her?"

"Yeah we've done that!"

I said: "Have you poured water over them?"

They've gone: "Yeah, we done that!" I went: "Well, my best advice to you is just throw her outside the flat and ring the ambulance."

Mvo1:If someone's overdosed ... put them in the recovery position and call 999. The police will not be routinely called and you could save someone's life.

6. Nationwide "flexible - why?"

Making a funny ad about mortgages is no mean feat, but this ad conveys the frustration of dealing with financial companies, and ends with a brilliant bit of comedy when the customer repeats the words of the banker.

Agency: Radioville

Creative team: Mark Gilmore, Tim Craig, Richard Johnston

Agency producer: Liz Oliver

Facility house: Zoo

Sound engineer: Jim Griffin

The Script

David: Can I help you sir?

Matt: Yes, I'm buying a house.

David: Well, we do mortgages!

Matt: But are they flexible, like at Nationwide?

David: Flexible mortgages? Why would you want one of those?

Matt: Well, I might want to make overpayments.

David: Why would you want to do that?

Matt: To reduce my mortgage.

David: Why would you want to do that?

Matt: To pay it off sooner.

David: Why would you want to do that?

Matt: So I could, I dunno, see the world?

David: Why would you want to do that?

Matt: Because I just do.

David: No no no, stay where you are and keep paying us lots of money for years and years and years.

Matt: But why would I want to do that?

David: Do stop asking so many questions.

Fvo: Unlike some places, every new mortgage from Nationwide lets you make overpayments, underpayments or even take payment holidays.

For a more flexible mortgage when buying a home, call 0800 302010 or visit any Nationwide branch. Mortgages subject to status, age, valuation and security. Written quotations on request, calls may be recorded.

7. NSPCC "Claire"

An ad that really stirs the emotions with the story of the troubled teenager Claire narrated in the first person. It won the best casting award at the annual Aerial Awards.

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi

Creative team: Ian Gabaldoni, Richard Baynham

Agency producer: Emily Squire at Shell Like

Facility house: Angell Sound

Sound engineer: Nick Angell

The Script

An emotional teenage girl reading a note as she writes it.

Ambient SFX of bedroom, pen on paper, folding of envelope, etc.

Laura: Dear Mum and Dad.


If you're reading this note I'll have gone.

I'm sorry it's turned out like this.


I'm sorry I was never good enough for you.

If only you could have seen what I'm like on the inside.

I love you both. Claire.

Mvo: Don't let this be the first time you let someone know how you feel.

Whatever you're going through, you can get confidential advice from an NSPCC counsellor online, right now, at Let's make it stop.

Full Stop.

8. BT "vocoder lady drink"

An ad that deserves to be celebrated for its brilliant title, it features a man who becomes obsessed with a female automated voice and asks her out for a drink. There is a point within this scenario, something to do with BT's 118 500 service.

Agency: St Luke's

Creative team: Andy Drugen, Simon Friedburg

Agency producer: Lorraine Geoghegan

Facility house: Angell Sound

Sound engineer: Nick Angell

The Script

Kevin: Hello. It's me again.

Vocoder lady: Hello.

Kevin: Listen. Why is it always me who has to call you?

Vocoder lady: Sorry.

Kevin: That's alright. Will you go out for a drink with me on Wednesday?

Vocoder lady: No. Sorry.

Kevin: How about Thursday?

Vocoder lady: No. Sorry.

Kevin: I love you.

Vocoder lady: Sorry. I didn't quite catch that.

Kevin: Well look, I'll give you a call tomorrow.

Vocoder lady: Thank you. Goodbye.


Vocoder lady: Only one number can get you through to the original BT 192 service.

That's 118 500.

The number you require is 118 500.

Legals: Calls cost 30p per minute. Connection charge is 25p from a BT landline. Other networks' availability and charges may vary.

9. RAB "Simon Callow"

Entering your own awards seems a bit of a poor show, but the Radio Advertising Bureau's excellent ads have helped radio reach a 7 per cent share of display advertising. The Callow spot benefits from a brilliant performance from the actor.

Agency: Eardrum

Creative team: Martin Sims, Ralph van Dijk, Anthony Bryan

Agency producer: Janet Clarke, Kate Davie, Katie Young

Facility house: The Bridge

Sound engineer: Matt Roberts

The Script

Chris: In advertising "It ain't what you say, it's the way that you say it". And on radio - the "brand conversation" medium - "that's what gets results ... yeah." One person who knows exactly how to say word things is actor Simon Callow.

Sfx: Backstage dressing room.

Chris: So Simon, have you done any radio commercials?

Simon: Oh yes.

Chris: Really?

Simon: Yes.

Chris: Can't say I recognise your voice.

Simon: (Pause) Well ... that's because I "change" my voice according to each script.

Chris: Oh clever.

Simon: By constricting my larynx.

Chris: (Disgust) Uugh ...

Simon: You see, some companies want to talk to customers in a (soft voice) soft, sincere tone. So I speak like this.

Chris: Ooh, that is lovely.

Simon: Hmm. Others want something more (suddenly gets louder) strident!!!

Chris: (Jumps) Oh!!

Simon: (RP, well spoken) Whereas large, dependable, companies prefer a tone you can trust.

Chris: Oh right. So with radio, advertisers can have all sorts of brand conversations with their customers ?

Simon: Exactly.

Chris: And what would, I dunno, a sexy voice sound like?

Simon: Velvety soft ...

Chris: (Repeating) Velvety soft ...

Simon: Chocolatey brown.

Chris: (Deep sexy voice) Chocolatey brown. Right, to find out more about radio advertising - the brand conversation medium - go to

Er ... how was that.

Simon: Sort of creepy.

Chris: Right.

10. Planet Granite "Mills & Boon"

An excellent spoof of the Mills & Boon romantic style, that features a woman awaiting the return of her swain only to find that he's obsessed with kitchen worktops.

Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Creative team: Laurence Quinn, Mark Norcutt

Agency producers: Kat Hara, Rebecca Shaf, Zoe Dale

Facility house: Wave

Sound engineer: Parv Thind

The Script

Fvo: And there it was before her eyes.

He'd promised her it for what had seemed like an eternity.

She had never seen anything of such gravitas before.

It was long, dark and rock solid.

With it's glistening shimmer in the evening moonlight, she couldn't help but touch it.

Right then and there, she didn't care about his dubious past, she only cared for her gorgeous new granite worktops.

She knew he must have either gone to Planet Granite, Unit 7, The Arches, Spon End, Coventry or found them on


1. Christian O'Connell, Xfm

Growing an audience beyond London through digital radio, the brilliant O'Connell still weaves a web of comic genius into his guitar-music playlist. He also excels at working in promotions on air.

2. The Sports Breakfast, talkSPORT

Despite the drama surrounding the show itself (presenter Alan Brazil's constant sackings and reinstatements by the station owner, Kelvin MacKenzie, and co-presenter Mike Parry's recent layoff owing to illness), The Sports Breakfast still packs a punch. A bit too feisty for most breakfast palates, but a must for football addicts.

3. Jono and Harriet, Heart 106.2 FM

Cosy as a pair of slippers, Jono and Harriet provide thirtysomething women in London with a comfortable alternative to Johnny Vaughan. The pair's chemistry has improved and they picked up a gold award in the Sony Radio Academy Awards.

4. Jane Jones, Classic FM

Jones' Lunchtime Request show has built a loyal audience with its combination of listener requests and the warm style of the presenter. Provides a rare option for advertisers - a hit daytime show with national reach.

5. Nick Ferrari, LBC

The fiery Ferrari divides opinion but love him or hate him, there's no doubt that his brand of talk radio is working for LBC. Possibly the closest thing the UK has to a US-style "shock jock", Ferrari has an unnerving ability to tap into public feeling on the big issues.

6. Bam Bam, Kiss 100

He might have a stupid name but Bam Bam's breakfast show is still a must for many advertisers because of its young, urban audience. The mix of gossip and gags shows no sign of wearing thin.

7. Jonathan Ross, Radio 2

Despite not presenting a commercial show, Ross is admired by most in the radio industry, many of whom wish he was on commercial radio rather than the BBC. He creates a perfect weekend listen with his blend of chat and music selections from his own collection.

8. Johnny Vaughan, 95.8 Capital FM

Poor old Johnny has received a good kicking for losing a few hundred thousand of Chris Tarrant's listeners. But he's sounding more assured and together of late, though he'll have to show tenacity if he's going to turn things around audience-wise.

9. Composer's Notes, Classic FM

A sharp bit of ad-funded programming from Prudential, which uses John Suchet to narrate the story of a famous composer set to a background of music. The link with the Pru comes through in the content, which focuses on the financial fortunes of each composer as they made their way in life.

10. Pete and Geoff, Virgin Radio

The duo's knockabout style offers something different at breakfast and pulls in an attractive audience with a male bias.


1. Disney, LBC 97.3

Disney wanted to encourage sales of its back-catalogue DVDs and videos, so it signed a deal with LBC involving the telling of four classic Disney stories (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio and Peter Pan) each night at 6.55 pm. More than 670,000 listeners tuned in to the first episode and helped to contribute to a nine-fold increase in sales.

- Agency: Vizeum

2. Oxy, Choice FM

Oxy's sponsorship was spread across the day's programming on the London urban music station Choice FM. The target audience was 13- to 16-year-olds and the deal lasted four weeks. The clever bit involved developing an online presence and an Oxy-branded live music event at Hammersmith Palais, which featured DJs and live acts. The event was attended by more than 1,300 teenagers.

- Agency: MediaCom

3. British Airways, drivetime, Capital Radio Group stations

The one-year deal, signed in July, gives BA sponsorship of shows including Neil Fox on 95.8 Capital FM and drivetime shows on Southern FM, Ocean FM and Capital Gold. BA signed the deal because it wanted to use drivetime to evoke thoughts of where listeners would rather be other than stuck in traffic or trapped at work.

- Agency: ZenithOptimedia

4. Woolworths, Capital Radio hit40uk chart show

In terms of sheer size, Woolworths' £8 million chart show deal is one of the largest in radio. The retailer renewed its sponsorship in August, to run until March 2006. The enhanced deal also includes sponsorship of the hit40uk TV programme.

- Agency: ZenithOptimedia

5. BMI, Pete and Geoff Show, Virgin Radio

To celebrate the launch of BMI routes to several new locations, including Las Vegas, the airline signed a three-week sponsorship on Virgin Radio's breakfast show. This ended in a whole week of programming coming live from Las Vegas.

- Agency: PHD

6. Virgin Mobile, Bam Bam Breakfast Show, Kiss 100

Beginning in September, the strength of this one-year deal lies in Virgin Mobile being integrated into every aspect of the show. This includes editorial support, giveaways and joint marketing activity.

- Agencies: Manning Gottlieb OMD, Goodstuff

7. Subway, 95.8 Capital FM

Subway is in the middle of a rapid expansion plan in London and tied up with Capital between ten and four o'clock each day with a deal that involved it targeting busy people at work. Each Friday an office was chosen for a giant delivery of Subway sandwiches.

- Media: In-house

8. Super Noodles, Mix network (36 stations)

Super Noodles sponsored Mix's interactive lunch across its stations, offering links to online promotions and a "Super Start to the Weekend" promotion each Friday. The sponsorship tied in with Super Noodles advertising by offering features such as a daily "average versus super" fact. The sponsorship deal ran from March through to June and was worth £360,000.

- Agency: ZenithOptimedia

9. National Savings & Investments, Simon Bates Breakfast Show on Classic FM

Simon Bates brings in a massive morning audience that fits the National Savings & Investments brand. The deal, which was worth more than £1 million, was signed in April and includes exposure in the Classic FM magazine, online and at the live event The Classical Brits. Classic says that the National Savings sponsorship is the biggest multi-platform deal it has ever negotiated.

- Agency: OMD Affinity

10. Jose Cuervo Gold, First Friday, Xfm

Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila's long-standing sponsorship of Xfm took an interesting turn this year when it backed the station's series of live London events. First Friday with Cuervo was launched in November at the Carling Islington Academy.

- Agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD.


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