Radio Advertising: The specialist route

A new model for making radio advertising enables the specialists to create work that, according to clients, is "better, faster, cheaper", Adrian Reith says.

Let's face it, advertisers like radio and agencies don't. The secret's out.

We know this is true because we hear it from both sides. It's not much of a secret, actually - but until recently there has been no alternative way to solve the radio creative issue.

For agencies, radio is usually just a problem which gets in the way of doing the real work - pictures.

Advertisers can detect the lack of agency commitment from the manner in which their agency goes about making radio - low priority, low passion, low (possibly no) investment in skills and training. I would also add low understanding by creatives. A client told me two months ago his experience was "like getting radio out of a stone", and he's the lucky one - he's got a famous top-20 agency.

I think the values that make for successful visual advertising actually hinder the process of making effective radio: visual values like "impressive", "important", "grand", "famous".

However, if you stop and think, it is doubtful these are words you would use to describe your relationship with your life partner (work with me here). Within that relationship, you might use these terms: "understanding", "warmth", "humility", "constancy", "truth", "respect" and "willingness to listen".

Doesn't sound very advertising, does it? Precisely. But that's what our relationship with radio is like. It's a relationship built on intimacy, not showbiz.

Radio advertising is 90 per cent about building on an already close "partnership" with the listener. All this starts at the brief stage.

The key reason radio specialists are thriving is they understand radio better. Having understood it, they've built a new model for making effective radio using these specialist skills and insights - this demands specialist people, specialist passions and specialist process.

The result of this is best summarised by a senior client who, when comparing approaches, said ours was "better, faster, cheaper". I'm not sure about that last bit - but the rest I can live with.

How do we integrate our work with that of another agency? Answer: very effectively, since we have radio intelligence working alongside picture intelligence. Perfect. (Isn't it strange to see "radio" and "intelligent" in the same sentence?)

Radio specialists are thriving because advertisers want more effective radio. Now it's possible.

- Adrian Reith is the managing director of Radioville.