MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE; Fmcg advertisers are ready to yield to radio’s charms

I am appalled. Not only is Viva! 963 AM about to change its name to the infinitely more dull-sounding 963 Liberty AM, but it is about to lose its exclamation mark tag in the process. Shame on it!

I am appalled. Not only is Viva! 963 AM about to change its name to the

infinitely more dull-sounding 963 Liberty AM, but it is about to lose

its exclamation mark tag in the process. Shame on it!



Of course there are some who say it is only copying the likes of

Hello!, but I say no! After all, it is a pretty unique idea to use what

is a visual device on an aural medium.



No matter. In this, the week that the Radio Advertising Bureau has

pulled in some 750 people to its annual conference, its very own Michael

Caine has slipped me an interesting statistic. It is this: of the top

100 advertisers in the 12 months to August this year - by definition

obviously national advertisers but companies, not brands - no fewer than

92 use radio. Pretty impressive, huh (in an exclamation mark sort of a

way, of course!)?



Naturally, you will ask who are the eight letting the side down and the

answer, in descending order of total expenditure, is this: Pedigree

Petfoods - which seems a bit odd considering its parent, Mars, spends

pounds 1.75 million of its total pounds 38.8 million adspend on radio.

Next comes the toy manufacturer Mattel. It is followed by a company

(which neither I nor the RAB has heard of) called Golden Ltd, which

apparently spends pounds 20 million a year in the other media - clearly

not to great effect if we’ve never heard of it.



Then comes Rothmans, followed by the china plate and flying duck

specialists, Franklin Mint, and Book Club Associates. Rothmans is

obviously a bit stuck by the nature of its products, and Franklin and

BCA are best seen in a press environment. Seventh is Gillette, which is

rumoured to be going on radio soon anyway, and eighth is J. D. Williams.



Perhaps most interesting is that, with the exception of Pedigree, all

the big fmcg advertisers, traditionally anti-radio, have succumbed to

the medium’s charms.



Nevertheless, the figures show, as a proportion of their total spend,

radio is very low, suggesting these companies are still dipping their

toes into the water. For example, leaving aside its health and beauty

range, Procter and Gamble spent only pounds 14,000 (out of a total spend

of pounds 80.8 million) on the medium, while Lever Brothers did only

marginally better (pounds 14,000 against a total spend of pounds 69

million). Curiously, its sister Unilever company, Brooke Bond, spent

more pro rata, but still only about 2 per cent of its ad budget.



Since radio is now officially a 5 per cent medium, its target must be to

get more of these big companies to put that proportion of their budgets

behind it. Surprisingly perhaps, some of the biggest fmcg advertisers

already are. Coke, McDonald’s and Kimberly-Clark all put more than 10

per cent of their spends on radio, while, at 17 per cent odd, the

Ministry of Defence is, pro rata, radio’s biggest national client.



Thus, in the words of one famous brand still not using radio, nine out

of ten brand owners obviously like the medium. Shame they never spent it

with Viva!