About the work
Kelvin Tillinghast has worked for a variety of different agencies; some titanic, some tiny and some now extinct.
Here, he discusses how the advent of technology has broadened radio’s marketing footprint by providing a more expansive and human experience.
We fidget monkeys can’t seem to help ourselves, we’re constantly snapping, filming, texting, blogging, watching, ogling, snooping, poking, scrolling, reading, absorbing and of course sharing. Our innate desire to socialise has led to technology exposing every nook and cranny to our scrutiny.
It’s also contributed to making our world a much busier place. As Eric Schmidt contests: every two days we create five exabytes of information, which is as much as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. One particular statistic I find truly awesome and fearsome in equal measure.
I deliberately left listening out of the list above to make a point. Obviously, it plays a crucial role, but as a stand-alone it’s slowly being relegated to second fiddle. We like pictures – those colourful shiny things – which is probably why our phone has become more of a visual tool than an aural one these days.
So where does radio sit in this visual cavalcade? Ironically, radio is very visual. It may engage the brain through different channels, but the resulting cerebral stimulation is easily on a par with the rest. In terms of advertising, a well-crafted radio ad can take the listener’s mind to places that would need the Cojones of Kronos to get the client to buy in any other medium.
However, it is with the advent of digital and mobile technology that radio really has started to broaden it’s marketing footprint by helping provide a more expansive and human experience.
‘Call Girl’ by DraftFCB New Zealand took Prime Television’s simple brief of announcing the launch of a new TV series of the same name and created what was in effect a 72hour radio commercial. Tapping into the innate desire of radio DJ’s to talk and gossip, they chose a suburban-based radio station that over-looked residential housing, then had an actress play call girl to clients in an apartment that the presenters could see into.
This, as you might expect, did not go unnoticed. It fuelled the chat and inevitably went social and was picked up by the news and other stations. Finally on day three, during primetime listening, the actress dropped the window blinds that revealed when the show was playing out on the reverse.
Another example was Gravity coffee’s promotion with More FM, where, due to poor coffee making skills, the morning crew’s new intern was sent a three-week fact finding mission to the coffee maker’s operation in Columbia. Granted, the human intrigue here is not as riveting as a performing call girl, but it showed how radio can create engaging content over a more prolonged period.
Both these examples show how radio really can help drive social media strategies, fuel up-dates and use a human story to help keep an audience engaged over an extended period.
Another area where radio has started to show its effectiveness is through the innovative use of technology.
Revista’s Go Outside repellent radio, effectively turned Band FM’s output into a mosquito repellent during peak feeding times, by embedding a 15Hz tone into the music that mimicked a tone emitted by their main predator, the dragonfly.
Not only was radio an ideal medium for this target, it gave a two hourly sponsored platform which the brand could own.
‘Radio Ghosts’ by the German agency Serviceplan for their client Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe, shows how technology created small little radio stations that could be placed just about anywhere.
The brief was to raise awareness of death caused by drink driving. The execution featured supposed voices of the deceased describing how they were killed. Simple enough, but what made this remarkable was how they were delivered to the audience. Small radio emitters were installed in wooden crosses that were then placed where the deaths had actually occurred. These crosses would then stream the recordings into the radios of passing cars.
What I liked about these last two examples is how they used technology to make the reach of radio more effective and involving. One turns the everyday output of the radio into branded content, while the other literally cuts through and puts the brand message right in your face (or in this case ears).
What all of the above show is that radio is a relevant and vibrant platform that can keep us fidget monkeys engaged – something well worth considering next time you start compiling your media schedules and content strategies.