CAMPAIGN REPORT ON GERMANY: Radio days - Radio advertising might be a young medium in Germany but it is experiencing rapid growth as clients seek an alternative to print and TV, Robert Gray reports

The first privately owned radio station in Germany, RPR Eins, only began life as recently as May 1986. Radio, therefore, has had a lot of ground to make up on print and television as an advertising medium. But it is beginning to do just that. After a disappointing 1998, last year was a barnstorming success in terms of attracting listeners and advertising.

The first privately owned radio station in Germany, RPR Eins, only

began life as recently as May 1986. Radio, therefore, has had a lot of

ground to make up on print and television as an advertising medium. But

it is beginning to do just that. After a disappointing 1998, last year

was a barnstorming success in terms of attracting listeners and


According to research by Zenith Media, adspend on radio grew 7.8 per

cent to DM1.275 billion during 1999, significantly ahead of the 5.1 per

cent hike across German advertising media as a whole. This followed on

from a poor performance the previous year, when the medium witnessed an

adspend rise of only 0.6 per cent. Some figures put radio spend as high

as DM1.9 billion. But whatever the true amount, everyone agrees that it

is rising.

Big-name advertisers such as McDonald’s, Renault, Ford, Procter & Gamble

and Kraft Jacobs Suchard are using radio as a means of building their

brands. The top ten advertisers on radio last year spent well over DM350

million between them.

’At the moment radio is living through a renaissance,’ says Norbert

Krekeler, group head at the Wiesbaden-based media agency HMS/Carat,

which includes Peugeot/Citroen among its radio-using clients. ’We are

booking a lot of campaigns on radio because it has become far more

attractive as a medium. Listener numbers are up and many of the stations

have invested more in programme quality.’

While radio stations have striven to improve quality, the medium has

also benefited from the situation regarding TV advertising. In a classic

economic pattern, demand for primetime TV slots is outstripping supply,

pushing up airtime rates. Add to this the higher production costs

involved in putting together TV commercials and it is easy to see why

many advertisers have sought to keep budgets in check by switching some

of their spend to radio.

Krekeler says: ’In Germany primetime TV is booked out. Therefore many of

our clients are looking to reach their consumers by using radio as


’TV prices are high and it is increasingly a problem to be competitive

on TV because it’s so crowded,’ Rebecca Wodecki, a senior account

manager at CIA Medianetwork Germany, says. ’Added to this is the fact

that the younger target audiences have become very mobile and you can’t

always reach them through TV.’

Radio in Germany is predominantly a local medium and tends to be used in

a tactical way by advertisers. As of 1999, there were 246 radio stations

of sufficient size and stature to warrant audience monitoring.

More than 50 of these are publicly owned, with 32 of them taking

advertising. These are marketed by ARD-Werbung Sales & Services


However, the most dynamic sector is the private radio stations. Many of

the largest media owners have banded together to form the non-profit

organisation Radio Marketing Service. RMS sells airtime to buyers

looking to advertise on a national basis or across combinations of

Germany’s regions. It represents 31 of the largest radio stations and

says that 70 per cent of the advertising it handles is national in


’RMS offers vary between the RMS Superkombi (national coverage) to

regional coverage (East, West, Southwest, Berlin, North) and various

target audiences, such as young target groups,’ Ricky McKenna of RMS

Sales says.

McKenna is also bullish about the prospect for further growth, expecting

radio to increase its share of the total advertising cake in the coming

years. He also thinks that the creativity of radio advertising is

’developing very positively’.

RMS has played a part in this, inviting junior agency copywriters to

two-day workshops on radio creativity, organised twice a year. Twenty

junior creatives attend each workshop at which senior creatives give

pointers and generally share their expertise on writing radio spots and

they work on briefs from real advertisers interested in developing radio


RMS and AS&S both run annual awards programme for the most creative

radio ads in a range of categories.

’The quality of the spots is much higher than a few years ago,’ says

Axel Musolff of AS&S, who believes the two award schemes have stimulated

more creative thinking from within agencies. ’We are seeing more

innovative ideas in radio campaigns as well as many interesting ways to

promote products in combination with on-air games or programme

presentations, for example.’

Although the bigger stations are taking the lion’s share of the spend,

those with a smaller broadcasting footprint and listener base are also

finding favour among advertisers looking to target specific


Wodecki says: ’I’m planning a lot of radio and my feeling is that it’s

changing now. Smaller stations are being booked as well. Also, there

isn’t really a difference between private stations and public stations -

all are getting good bookings now. It’s only that we have more private

stations than public ones these days.’

The high cost of television, improving creative standards and the fact

that RMS and AS&S have been promoting the medium heavily with a DM20

million mixed-media campaign called ’Pro Radio’ have combined to put

radio in the spotlight. It is probably not over-optimistic, therefore,

for Musolff to predict that radio advertising spend in Germany will rise

another 7 per cent this year.


1    Antenne Bayern                          125,210

2    Radio NRW                               113,767

3    SWR 3                                   111,566

4    Hit Radio FFH                            97,750

5    RK BaWu                                  84,677

6    WDR 1                                    80,248

7    WDR 2                                    75,203

8    RPR Eins                                 69,912

9    NDR 2                                    67,134

10   Hit Radio Antenne                        64,982

Source: S&P


1    Deutsche Telekom                         77,395

2    McDonald’s                               50,529

3    Media Markt + Saturn                     41,296

4    Westdeutsche Lotterie                    34,858

5    T-Mobil                                  31,157

6    Renault                                  29,111

7    Springer Verlag                          27,367

8    Procter & Gamble                         26,848

9    Viag Interkom                            25,019

10   Ferrero                                  23,329

11   Opel                                     23,127

12   Citroen                                  15,755

13   Ford                                     15,053

14   Mannesman Mobilfunk                      14,314

15   Deutsche Post                            13,896

16   DaimlerChrysler                          13,449

17   Sat 1                                    13,011

18   Quelle Versandhaus                       11,781

19   Kraft Jacobs Suchard                     11,367

20   ADAC                                     11,275

Source: S&P