Sunday, July 03, 2005

Going ga-ga over radio ads

The increasing number of car owners and FM radios fuels a new trend

Posted online: Sunday, July 03, 2005 at 0103 hours IST

If you are told to recall any advertisement, chances are that you will recall one because of its sound content. And if you are a radio listener, then you are more likely to recall one that you heard on radio than one you heard or saw on TV. And why not, studies show that people remember more if they hear words than if they see them. A visual image fades in about one second while an aural impression lasts four or five times as long.

Welcome to the world of radio advertisements. It is the new fad in town, especially the metros. FM radio has made a huge splash in India during the past few years. And along with the programmes, even the advertisements have clicked with people. People are hooked on to the radio and this has led to the growing popularity of radio advertisements. “I like the Hanes underwear commercial. Their punchline stating that when you are wearing a tagless underwear, everything that tags along irritates you is thoroughly amusing,” says Anurag Jain, a DU student, who calls himself a ‘radio-addict’.

Adds Saurabh Datta, a student and radio listener who too enjoys radio commercials, “They are usually witty, entertaining and shorter than TV commercials.” Using humour and drama, these commercials are very appealing to listeners. For example, the Coca Cola commercial where an individual thinks he can become Gabbar by shooting four people. So the ad goes: “Sirf char log mar ne se Gabbar nai banta, jaise botal me dalne se kuch bhi thanda nai banta, thanda matlab Coca Cola”. If the lines tickle your funny bone, using Gabbar’s voice makes the ad even more entertaining.

“It is always interesting to guess whose voice it is. Besides, hearing just the voice makes much more of an impact,” says Dr Abhijit Dasgupta, a sociologist appreciating the use of celebrity voices in radio commercials. There are still others who believe that radio ads are much more innovative. “They use catchy tunes and a unique script to make their point,” says Guddu, another enthusiast.

And while FM has come as a relief to people, giving them more entertainment options, it is nothing short of a boon for companies. Radio advertising presents small companies with the opportunity to market their products cost-effectively. It enables large companies to tap new consumers. Several companies such as Dr Morepen, Lux, and Complan regularly use FM radio to hawk their products. Radio advertising is definitely wallet-friendly and value for money. According to a study, a 10% spend of a given TV budget into radio, created 15% better awareness. It has many more advantages as well. Says Romen Sood, station director, Radio Mirchi, Kolkata, “Radio is far more local, immediate and interactive than other media.” In fact, using a bit of creativity, radio advertising makes very successful ad campaigns. “It captures people’s attention and keeps them talking about it,” he adds.

Radio also offers an opportunity to target a specific segment of people for a particular product, like busy males tuning in while they drive to work or the ladies special programmes in the afternoon. “A plethora of different shows targeting different groups at different times enables a wide and specific listener-ship,” he adds. Experts too vouch for radio’s advantages over other media. “It enhances awareness of the product by using strategies such as ’word of mouth’, says a radio advertising analyst. Radio advertising also enables sonic branding. Sonic branding is when the music used in a commercial enables you to identify a brand. For example, “On hearing Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Loving It”, we immediately recognise it as a McDonald’s commercial,” she says. The end result is that people will enter a shop not knowing what an Intel Pentium Processor is, but knowing that they want that exact product which has a commercial presenting the xylophonic tune, they know by heart.

Radio advertising has become even more attractive as in-car listening is increasing. “Currently, more than 60% of radio-listening is car-based,” says Sood. As long as the number of car owners in India is on the rise, FM radio will keep gaining popularity. “A higher density of cars per capita and longer driving durations will increase the number of in-car listening hours in India,” adds Sood.

So, this fad is here to stay.