The Problem With FMCG Brands And Radio Ads

The Problem With FMCG Brands And Radio Ads

While radio advertising is tracking as strong as ever, the lack of visuals is an issue for FMCG brands when choosing where to place their ad spend.

Emma Mackenzie
Posted by Emma Mackenzie

Joan Warner, CEO of radio industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) said sometimes an advertiser says “I need visual to sell my product”.

“And that’s where we have a bit of a problem with FMCG,” she told B&T. “A lot of those clients do like to see the chocolate bar or the bottle of tomato sauce.”

Still, that’s not to say an FMCG brand can’t bring in swags of consumers with a decent radio ad. Warner noted a 90 second ad from Snickers in 2007 – Snickers Hoedown – was widely acclaimed for its creativity and ended up winning the Radio Grand Prix are Cannes that year.

“We just have to keep plugging away saying radio can do interesting ads, radio can do brand ads, radio can do ads for any product as long as the writing is clever enough.”

Warner noted the type of brands advertising is cyclical. Ads for car brands appear to be coming back to the medium now, as Warner noted the manufacturers had turned off radio for a while.

But when it comes to creating a stellar radio ad, such as the recent Gold Siren Winner by Clemenger BBDO duo Elle Bullen and James Orr, there’s no secret formula. As the plethora of entries showed at this year’s Siren Awards celebrating the best in radio advertising, the ads were diverse with no distinguishing trends.

Trying to cut through the clutter is getting harder and harder, noted Warner. However, for her and the judges of the Sirens, they’re looking for creative ideas, “not just creativity for the sake of it, but that fits the product and takes a different view”.

Matt Dickson, a creative solutions officer at Southern Cross Austereo, said the key to a good radio ad is to get a poo joke in and don’t be an arsehole.

“I’m serious when I say, never underestimate the power of a poo joke,” he told the National Radio Conference at the end of 2015.

Still, one pain point is repurposing a TV ad for radio, said Warner. It used to happen a lot a decade ago and despite a lot of coverage telling creatives to not do this, it still occurs.

“The days when everything was a 30 second-er have long gone. And even the treatment of some of the ads are slightly more conversational,” she said.

B&T travelled to Melbourne for the Siren Awards as a guest of Commercial Radio Australia.