Aug 08 2018

We all learn a lot from example.

That's why, every week, we'll be breaking down some of the best (and worst) radio adverts airing in the UK to help you develop your own creative thoughts and ideas.

You'll find the best and worst examples of radio adverts all in one place. 

    Just pick a brand or title from the section below to have a listen to the radio advert and read our thoughts on it.

Mars-Confessions  o2




Mars - Confessions

First up, we're looking at Snickers Confessions. 

In the madly famous ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ lineage, Snickers is back with ‘Confessions’

Similar in style to the KFC ‘worst thing ever’ campaign, ‘confessions’ takes a talking head style, shameful  confessions and gives them a novelty, absurd twist.

Here's What Group Head of Creative, John-Paul Hughes Thinks:


Good casting, performance and use of the medium by slowing down the music to dramatise and amplify their core message ‘you’re not you when you’re hungry’.

Again the ad is about the buyer, not the seller. They present a problem then position their product as the answer. Snickers satisfies your hunger and gets you back to your best. With the added incentive of limited edition bars to persuade you to try one in-store today.

They embrace the emotional and the implied through short, amusing stories of people screwing up. Its relatable and entertaining. And why is entertainment important? Because nobody wants to hear your advert. NOBODY! So the way to cut through that indifference, make people listen and care about what you have to say is to entertain.

Group Head of Creative, John-Paul Hughes



How Many Times Is Too Many Times?

Here's the thing about humour: the more you hear it, the less funny it gets. 

This is a something a lot of radio advertisers have to consider.

Humour and jokes work really well for impactful campaigns but in this case, judging by the fact there is no clear call to action, promotion or anything product related, we’d have to come to conclusion that this was a brand awareness campaign and therefore wouldn't be running on a busy OTH (opportunity to hear) schedule.

That means you'll hear it enough to recall and remember, but not enough to feel compelled to turn the station over every time it comes on because you can repeat it line for line already.

With this advert, though, you've got a particular brand of humour.

It’s relatable humour and that kind of humour, almost awkward, works really well on radio because there is that intimate relationship between the most engaged listeners and the stations themselves. This kind of branded content or promotion is great because it taps into the innate ‘I’ve been there’ mentality that we all have. The empathy.

Because content on radio is delivered in such a way as it’s a direct communication, an advertiser can build that empathy quicker than they could on most other traditional advertising media like outdoor, print or digital.

This advert knew that and used radio to its full potential.

However, for every engaged listener there is another listener who only has the radio on the background while cleaning the dishes. A massive portion of a lot of listenerships are people who have radio on as background noise, so in most cases you as an advertiser have to fight for their attention with creative that grabs their attention.

Think intriguing sonic logos, catchy or recognisable songs. These are the usual bits of creative that grab people.

This advert isn’t exactly going to jump out from and force you to turn up the volume. That’s where this advert takes a risk.

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Less is More

When you're spending large sums of marketing budget on an advert you want to make sure that you get all possible bits of persuasive information into that advert.

But, often the braver and more effective thing to do is to say less with your advertising. 

Think about it this way: when someone's frantic, their mind is often running on overdrive. They're firing off everything they think is important. You, as someone here to help, are desperately trying to keep up with each strand but as soon as you think you understand one strand, they're on to the next one. 

In the end, you wonder if any of it went in at all. 

In an ideal world, we'd all be able to take a minute to relax and think about the single most important message to communicate at any one time. 

Fortunately, as advertisers we have the benefit of being able to do that. 

We can take a step back and focus on the brief to make sure we're distilling our message to a core point. That's what we imagine the marketers at Mars did when they sat down to think about their confessions campaign because it's efficient. 

The music is stripped back. Just a single track, slowed down.

The voice talent is diverse, but there are no exaggerated accents that distance the listener for the creative. 

The characters we're introduced to find themselves in almost absurd positions that're believable. Job interview goofs, ill-advised weekend trips to busy shopping centres and bad anniversary gifts. 

This is followed up by the sonic logo. 

In a very simple and effective way you've started to build share of mind. There may not be a call to action, but that isn't always needed. 

Contact the team

Section 3  

O2 - O2 Family

Since a major brand revamp in 2006, O2 have been broadcasting minimalist campaigns that focus on problems and solutions. They've also had the pleasure of Sean Bean's dulcet Yorkshire tones. 

Let's dive straight into the thoughts of our Creative:


Here's What Group Head of Creative, John-Paul Hughes Thinks:


Good advertising is about the buyer, not the seller. O2 have done that here. With single minded clarity they’ve focussed on one product, one message, one customer and one key benefit to the buyer. They aren’t selling you a product, they’re solving your problem: the insecurities you have as a parent about doing the right thing by your kids and family. Then they position their O2 Family product as the answer.

Done with relatable empathy, O2 have shown they know their customer. This isn’t a great ad. It’s an effective, well—crafted, well-executed ad that will deliver a result.

 Group Head of Creative, John-Paul Hughes




Empathy is the ability of people to recognize and respond to the emotions of others. It’s the foundation of sympathy, compassion and persuasion. 

Empathy can be broken down into two types of empathy:

  • Emotional empathy is the subjective state resulting from emotional stimulus. It is our automatic drive to respond appropriately to another’s emotions. This kind of empathy happens automatically, and often unconsciously. 
  • Cognitive empathy is the largely conscious drive to recognize accurately and understand another’s emotional state. Sometimes we call this kind of empathy “perspective taking.”

In advertising, you'll mainly be taking advantage of emotional empathy. Providing an emotional stimulus that drives response. 

Why is it important to recognise this? Well, If you're handing over money for anything, it helps if you feel that the person or brand your handing that money too understands your problems and unique position. 

All too often advertisers set their minds on lighting up the market with jaw dropping creative that is relevant, original and divisive all at the same time. They sometimes forget that the most effective thing to do is also the simplest. 

Just show your customers you understand them, you care and you can provide a solution. 

Is there a simpler or more authentic way to do this than to actually voice those problems and insecurities so you can directly link your product to them as the answer? 

And, if O2 are anything to go by, you don't need a massive budget to achieve this. Just a few voice actor's reading from a well-written script that accurately communciates understanding and empathy. Cap it all off with a clear call to action and you've got a very effective, cost-effective advert. 


That Voice... Is That..?

It's the guy from Game of Thrones... ooo... dies a lot... what's his name?

A lot is said for famous faces, but If you're in a position where you can make use of a famous voice, don't hesitate.

Using a famous, recognisable or simply distinctive voice can help you build share of mind and recollections.  

A reminder on frequency:

If you’ve done any research at all into this topic than you’ve probably come across a few different articles explaining that you need to hear or see something multiple times before it starts to sink in. Many industries address this with ad ‘frequency’. Frequency is essentially the amount of times your advert plays over a certain amount of times. Being played more results in more opportunities for your brand to be seen or heard.

However, with some advertising mediums where the costs are higher, increasing your frequency isn’t a viable option. The good news here is that some advertising mediums have been shown to naturally inspire more retention.  

According to the Radiocentre, those exposed to radio were 52% more likely to include a brand name in their internet searches. Likewise, 58% went online within 24 hours of exposure to a radio ad to make a related search.



This time next week we'll be shining the spotlight on yet another radio advert!