Radio used to be the poor relation of television when it came to advertising but, as increasing spends reveal, a canny use of the medium in a campaign is giving good value for money. Karen Dempsey reports Children should be seen but not heard ­ that's how parents used to regard their offspring in our grandparents' day. The same could be said for fmcg brand owners whose media strategy used to focus only on the visual and whose whole media budget went on television. But now big consumer brands are growing up and letting their offspring be heard as well as seen. Enter radio as a new aural playground for the brand. Andrew Harrison, marketing director for Nestlé, speaking at the Radio Advertising Bureau's 2001 Advertiser Conference Harnessing the power of radio', recently said: "Guardians of fmcg products usually prefer the sights, the visuals and the motion of television pictures to advertise their brands. Radio is more usually the domain of phone companies or dotcom start-ups that can't afford TV." But that is no longer the case. Nestlé is one of a whole trolley load of brands that are spending their money on radio. In the year to May 2001 food companies spent more than £18m on radio (up 17.9% year on year), alcoholic drinks companies spent £7.5m (up 1%) and cosmetics and toiletries firms spent £6.2m (up 5.2%) [ACNielsen MMS]. So why have such visual products begun this big love affair with a non-visual medium? Cost does have something to do with it. But then so do other media considerations such as frequency, coverage and daypart targeting. Nestlé spends about £70m a year on TV across its food, beverage, confectionery, cereal and petcare business on brands such as Nescafé, Kit Kat, Shredded Wheat and Perrier. Harrison says: "With so many brands ­ and with the escalating cost of TV ­ we've begun to look closer and more regularly at radio as the lead medium for some of our brands and as a complementary medium for Kit Kat." It is telling when you consider that 10 years ago, Nestlé deployed all its marketing funds on TV. Five years ago, it was 80% and by 2006 it estimates that just over half its ad spend will be on TV. Kit Kat, for example, used to be on air for about a third of the year, complemented by a burst of poster advertising. But now the brand has a multimedia strategy that ensures it is omnipresent on radio, posters, the internet and in press, as well as TV. Harrison says: "Kit Kat is now a multimedia brand ­ part of the fabric of daily life. For a brand purchased daily, for a brand consumed daily, this presence ­ every day ­ is critical to developing the confectionery category and Kit Kat's share within it. We've done that by taking the Have a Break' positioning and extending the message creatively. Our creative work is media neutral but our marketing planning is media integrated. Our radio campaign was 2000 Aerial Campaign of the Year." He adds: "The multiplier effect of moving a small part of our TV spend into radio has proved attractive. Radio is building awareness for Kit Kat as a supplement to TV. At the same time, our radio costs are a seventh those of TV." But just because it's cheaper doesn't mean it's less effective. Justin Sampson, md of RAB ­ the trade marketing body for UK commercial radio tasked with helping guide advertisers to effective radio advertising ­ has repeatedly put forward this argument and it has been paying off. RAB was set up in 1992 when radio was the poor relation of TV and accounted for 2% of total ad spend. Today it accounts for 6%, which is no mean feat, particularly in a climate of scaled back media budgets. Sampson says that extensive work was carried out last year with Millward Brown and 17 consumer brands to gauge the comparative effect of TV versus radio. The results showed radio to be three-fifths as effective as TV in driving awareness, and that this level was achieved at only a seventh of the cost. Much of the effectiveness of radio is to do with how it is used within a campaign. Harrison says: "There is a flexibility about radio media buying: it can be bought by town, by daypart, by programme genre or by station." So different ads for Kit Kat ran at different times of the day: Garden Centre' ran at drivetime, Department Store' on Saturday mornings only, and National Lottery' on Saturday evenings only. Sampson adds: "Radio campaigns tend to be heavier weight and the fact that most radio is consumed in the mornings is ideal for fmcg advertisers as their message is getting through more frequently and at the time of day when people are thinking about what they need to buy." But radio isn't all about a numbers sell. There are several touchy-feely creative sides to the argument that have pulled in the fmcg punters. Richard Wheatly, chief executive of Jazz FM, says that the way people listen to his station is in a chilling out, glass of wine kind of mood, and the audience makes an appointment to listen at certain times of the day (for example to Dinner Jazz). He explains that when advertisers use Jazz FM "it's not a vanilla spot of airtime. Jazz FM is less about programming and more about a lifestyle, and brands can become a part of that editorial environment. Perrier, for example, is a major sponsor of Jazz FM, and sends young jazz musicians into schools to teach pupils. Jazz means cool and young and advertisers can weave their brands into the feel and texture of the medium." At the other end of the dial is TalkSport, but the principle of becoming involved with the editorial of the station is the same. Tim Bleakley, md of Impact (the sales company that represents TalkSport), says: "Marketers are having to become more multimedia and they're not looking for straight road solutions." Indeed, the solution that TalkSport came up with for John Smith's bitter was a multi-faceted road. Bleakley explains that the core element of the package is the No Nonsense Sports Breakfast, which has a brand essence link with John Smith's, the no nonsense bitter. "The show includes a Silky Smooth Tips betting feature, but it's only there because John Smith's is sponsoring the show, and listeners feel it is part of the show. Radio has a close relationship with its listeners because of the nature of the medium so it can get intimate without being intrusive. The brand then uses sponsorship of the show to leverage other elements of its marketing mix, such as on-pack promotions, at point of sale and in pubs." Radio is also a way to cut through the clutter on TV. Nivea for Men advertised in rough and ready editorial, such as live football and rugby, to get across the point that men can have soft skin and still be men. But what makes radio the ideal medium for such visual brands, says Bleakley, is "its ability to conjure up a visual image purely through sound. It's about theatre of the mind, which is more than projecting a picture into people's living rooms." Capital Radio has made a point of harnessing the power of radio to conjure up images in the minds of listeners and is taking it one step further by hosting seminars called The Taste of Sound in the autumn. Aimed at food advertisers, the seminars explore how the food sector can maximise its use of radio and encourages companies to think more imaginatively about radio use. The buzzword in radio circles is sonic logo' which means creating a sound that is instantly recognisable and is associated with the brand. This can be a sound that belongs to a particular brand ­ the Intel Pentium Processor has an immediately identifiable sonic logo. Or it could be a song, such as the one that used to accompany the 11.30 Diet Coke Break ads. Denise Tenn-Green at Capital says: "TV has done all the work on the visual side, so when you hear the music you can picture the ad in your head. If you catch people at the right moment ­ such as an ad for butter just as people are reaching for their toast in the mornings ­ and if you use voice and music to convey the taste experience, then it's all about the brand making people's mouths water." This is certainly the intention of Danish Bacon when it uses radio as part of its media mix. Marketing director at the Danish Bacon and Meat Council, John Howard, says: "The major occasion where we use radio is with the distinctive sound of sizzling bacon ­ and Danish Bacon has good ownership of the sizzle on radio. "With bacon having such a strong association with breakfast, and because morning listening is high, we feel the timing and the environment is good for us ­ even though you can't see the bacon in the pan. The relatively high cost of TV is a factor and while we still feel that the appetite appeal of bacon is better conveyed visually, radio does a decent job for us." {{FEATURES }}