Rustlers’ “Pub” voted Radiocentre’s Audio Ad of 2022

The Droga5-created spot beat Whiskas and Workspace to the new award run by Radiocentre and Campaign

Rustlers’ “Pub” voted Radiocentre’s Audio Ad of 2022

Droga5 London’s art director Lücy Aa and copywriter Jordan Waters with their group creative director Raphael Basckin

A creative duo’s first radio ad has been voted 2022’s Audio Ad of the Year.

Droga5 London’s art director Lücy Aa and copywriter Jordan Waters have won the award for Rustlers’ “Pub”, a spot described by shortlisting judge Dave Billing, Fold7’s executive creative director, as a “nicely unhinged and joyous execution”.

The ad beat Abbott Mead Vickers’ “Magical Tap” for Whiskas and Now Advertising’s “Space to do what you want with (Seagulls)” for Workspace - by a significant margin - in a vote among the Campaign audience over Christmas.

There were 907 votes cast by the deadline of year-end at midnight on December 31.

Before the public vote, Billing, along with Ross Neil, deputy executive creative director at VCCP London and Dayoung Yun, creative director at VMLY&R, chose their three favourite commercials from a shortlist of 10 picked by Radiocentre from more than 55 entries to the new award. A second Rustlers ad, “Trafalgar”, by the same team also made the top 10.

The Audio Ad of the Year Award was created by Radiocentre with Campaign to celebrate creativity in audio advertising as well as championing the teams behind winning work.

Initially, Rustlers wanted just one radio ad, “but we managed to sell them on doing two,” Aa says. And in a bid to stretch the budget, the agency’s senior art director Andrew Bevan was drafted in to act as a pub bore.

In “Pub”, Droga5 reminds us what it’s like to try enjoying watching a big match stuck next to a stranger droning on - in this case, about his new kitchen. The aim: to convince people to stay at home and watch the men' s football World Cup with a microwaveable Rustlers burger instead.

“As a microwavable burger brand, we are not necessarily first choice during the festive period,” says Rustlers UK senior brand manager Rebecca Simpkin. But opportunity lay in the World Cup’s proximity to Christmas.

“(This) opened up a viable opportunity for Rustlers to position ourselves as the perfect solution to recreate a ‘fakeaway’ at home. Our products tie in perfectly with sporting events. We wanted to show you can have a great experience watching the game at home,” she adds.

Radio was the ideal medium.

“We utilise radio to drive cost effective reach on a national scale. Radio over-indexes with our target audience and provides a great opportunity to deliver brand and/or product messaging with strong frequency,” Simpkin explains.

The “emotive connection” between listeners and their chosen stations is also a great opportunity to drive positive sentiment around the brand. Further, radio provides a chance to be playful.

“As a brand, Rustlers is bold and goes against the grain – we are unconventional: a burger that you microwave. So, we can have real fun and get creative. Aside from delivering against our campaign KPIs, we genuinely want to make people laugh,” she adds.

With a brief to sell the idea of staying at home as well as eating Rustlers burgers, the creative team started out by considering the benefits of not going out, Waters says.

“One of the best things about staying at home, especially in the context of watching football, is that you can control your surroundings.

“You don’t have to worry about the weather, the traffic or sitting next to someone you don’t want to. It’s just you, possibly your family and friends and The Game. No proud new owners of built-in kitchens. Hopefully.”

The ad started off just being a list of all the negatives of watching football in a pub, adds Aa. “The clients liked the idea but didn’t want to make pubs the enemy because, well, we all love the pub.

“So, after writing a bunch of scripts, we ended up getting more specific than just making fun of the institution and we honed in on the one danger they contain to any committed fan – chatterboxes.”

Since all involved worked to stretch the budget as far as possible from the get-go, the focus was on how to make the spot sound as big as possible using as little as possible.

“Did we resort to using people in the agency? Yes, we did,” says Aa. “But I hasten to add that they were brilliant. And we forced them to audition. The kitchen aficionado is Andrew Bevan, who happens to be renovating his kitchen for real!”

Waters explains that, “As ‘Bev’ had his own kitchen done a week before recording, he was able to sit in the studio and talk about cupboards completely unscripted. The reason Kitchen Man feels so real is because he is.”

When it came to post-production, the emphasis was on finding the right ambient sounds for a pub. “It’s a sound we’re all familiar with,” Aa says, “but one that’s quite complex to manage alongside the levels of our voice actors.”

The end result works so well because it is so relatable, Simpkin believes.

“We have all been there – in that pub that’s a bit too busy, not being able to get served, people talking over the game, all the little things that distract you.

“And the juxtaposition of that experience against the one Rustlers presents – enjoying the match in the comfort of your own home while tucking into a delicious burger – really nails the brand’s core purpose: convenient food without compromising on taste or quality.”

Although “Pub” is Waters’ and Aa’s first radio ad, they took creative direction from fellow Droga5 creatives Ash Hamilton and Sara Sutherland, especially when it came to giving the voice actor, Louis Mellis, directions on tone.

And the pair learned fast about what it takes to get a great idea from script to audio speaker. “Write a bunch of scripts. Rehearse them out loud and time yourself. Make sure it makes you and your partner laugh. Write a bunch more scripts and do it all over again,” Aa says. And - as importantly - enjoy the process.

“We had a lot of fun trying stuff out on the day of the recording,” he reveals. “It’s amazing how the creative process just never stops with radio.”

Radiocentre’s client director Lucy Barrett agrees. “This award is our way of championing the creatives and brands behind great audio advertising,” she says. “It was a joyful experience to review the entries because there were so many strong ads. Rustlers stood out from the start. A simple but amusing script that resonated with the target audience. We just know the creative team behind it had fun making it and have a bright future in writing stand out ads for audio so congratulations to Lücy and Jordan.”

Winning ad
Rustlers - “Pub” - Droga5 London
Copywriter - Jordan Waters
Art director - Lücy Aa
Group creative director - Raphael Basckin
Former creative director - Ash Hamilton
Former creative director - Sara Sutherland
Producer - Olly West
Facility House - String and Tins

Also shortlisted:
Whiskas - “Magical Tap” - AMV BBDO
Workspace - “Space To Do What You Want With (Seagulls)” - Now Advertising