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FOREWORD Think about it. What’s the one important thing about radio you’ve had to learn the hard way? What is it about the medium that one day suddenly struck you like a bolt of lightning, only after years of making radio spots? What is that very obvious technique that makes for outstanding radio advertising time and time again? The Radio Advertising Bureau’s ‘101 Ways to Get the Best Out Of Radio Advertising’ handbook is designed to answer these and many other frequently asked questions. That’s because as the champion of the medium of radio in South Africa, we’ve made it our business to find out just what makes radio work, and how you can take advantage of this, in your radio advertising. After all, we’ve come a long way since the broadcast of the first radio commercial on US based radio station WEAF in 1922! To do this, we’ve enlisted the help of advertisers, marketers, media planners, strategists, buyers, creative experts and just about everyone who shares our passion, culminating in these 101 insights on how to make the most effective and creative use of the medium.

We at the RAB live and breathe radio. We’re committed to seeing radio advertising thrive by continually providing the advertising and marketing industry with information, constant communication and innovative thinking, regardless of technological or economic changes. It’s with this that we’d like to thank you all for your contributions. We hope that our handbook will inspire, inform, and encourage great media and creative thinking within the world of radio. One hundred and one ways to improve your understanding of the processes required to deliver a great radio campaign. Happy reading! RAB South Africa Shaping The Future


The biggest challenge is incorporating a creative and entertaining idea into a 30-second spot - which is not a lot of time - without detracting from the single-minded message that you want the listener to walk away with. I usually start with “What is the message that we need to communicate and what would be the most unexpected way to communicate that message?”

Justin Osburn - Copywriter - FoxP2




Radio doesn’t give one the luxury of hiding behind beautiful art direction or fancy computer graphics. Either your idea works or it doesn’t. Because only one sense is being engaged, i.e. hearing, you really do have the opportunity to engage and stimulate the consumer’s imagination in a way that you cannot on any other medium.

The casting of the actors is critical – they truly can make or break an ad.

Justin Osburn - Copywriter - FoxP2

Justin Osburn - Copywriter - FoxP2



We need to look carefully at how we can improve and grow the bank of quality South African voice talent as there is a dire shortage. If we have to establish radio acting classes, then that’s what we need to do

Alistair King - MD - King James

Identify the production house that you feel is best for the particular script and invest adequate time into voice selection and crafting. Justin Gomes - Creative Director - Fox P2


As an industry, we need to look carefully at the new generation of writers coming out of advertising schools and see how we can grow their writing skills in the radio arena. We’re not necessarily looking at creating another advertising award, but we are looking at some ideas that will hopefully teach us to be better audio writers.

Alistair King - MD - King James


A good dose of humour, a simple message as well as an in depth understanding of the target audience or the environment in which the ad will be played are key ingredients for a great radio spot.

Mike Wilson - Creative Director - King James (JHB)


Great print visually stimulates the reader. By the same token, great radio should captivate the listener by painting pictures in their minds with the words or sounds used. Time in the studio and endless revisions are one way to really get the best out of an idea, however, it needs to be a good idea to begin with.

Tim Beckering - Creative Group Head and Senior Copywriter - Net#work BBDO


Copywriters must refrain from thinking that a conversation between two people or a joke stolen off the Internet and re-enacted on radio, is a good radio ad. It’s lazy and it doesn’t help the client. Bottom line: this is a dirty, subjective business where failure is just a bad voice artist or a lazy script-writer away.

Mike Wilson - Creative Director - King James (JHB)


Radio is still often seen as the poor cousin to the other, sexier media types such as TV or print. Not as much time is spent on pre-production choosing the right voice and music - as is done on a TV commercial, and I think that’s a big mistake. Maybe it’s the perception that because you’re spending millions instead of thousands of rand, one is more important than the other? Spend the time and reap the rewards. Remember, it takes brave work and an even braver client to do this kind of work

Rob McClennan - Executive Creative Director - Net#work BBDO


If it’s a conversation between two people, make sure neither one rattles on for too long, or the listener will lose interest.

Always ensure dialogue is short and punchy.

Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT

012 Encourage yourself to break the usual gag-and-tag setup of telling a story or joke, then tagging on the announcer with brand/product payoff lines at the end.

Always think of interesting ways of breaking the usual structure of a radio ad. Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT


You can never be too nit-picky in the studio. If you think the voice-over artist is not pronouncing the ‘p’ strongly enough in the second line, let them know. Take pride in every detail of your work.


Be very careful with timing. Sometimes you have to be very ruthless in what you have to cut to make the 30” time limit. Rather have a good comfortably-timed dialogue, than something that’s crammed and rushed. Never underestimate the power of an ‘awkward silence’.

Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT


Always look at your available budget and ways in which you can make the most of it. If Mel Gibson singing ‘Kumbaya’ in a high-pitched voice can be used to enhance the concept of your radio ad, and you can afford it, do it.

Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT

Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT


Ensure you know, work with, and write the script around the mandatory requirements from the client, from the beginning. These include any URLs, payoff lines and product details. You don’t want to find yourself having to cut a vital piece of the dialogue down to fit in some special offer at the end.

Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT


Although radio works with the theatre of the mind, you don’t want to leave too much work to the listener’s imagination. It’s important not to rely on sound effects to tell the story, as these are merely aids in depicting the situation / setting.

Craig Ross - Copywriter - Ogilvy CT


Writing world class radio commercials is a talent only a few are blessed with. That’s because crafting radio ads can no longer just be a plain 30” spot with library music and winked-in-copy from Voice Bank. Offer the listener the opportunity to interact. The most memorable commercials are those that induce a particular mood or even elicit fantasy.

Melissa Cogle - Implementation Buyer - Starcom MediaVest Group


True brilliance comes from a clear-cut brief; after all, less is more. Every listener thinks differently, so if the creative execution is spot on, all listeners will have the same picture in their minds. In the end, that’s all that matters - having a message that means the same thing to everyone, and ultimately springs them into action.

Melissa Cogle - Implementation Buyer - Starcom MediaVest Group


Although you can’t quite literally show a brand on radio, it is possible to convey the emotional element that all brands carry. Don’t put your radio commercials in a 30” box, rather allow for the message to determine the duration.

A 10” ad can be more powerful than a 30” commercial. Remember - strategic placement of commercials and the creative message they carry will determine the success of your emotional brand building.

Melissa Cogle - Implementation Buyer - Starcom MediaVest Group


Quality is one language everyone understands. If you omit it from your radio ad – whether English or vernacular, you’ll miss an opportunity to create memorable communication.

022 Don’t play the ‘time card’ i.e. “I didn’t have enough time to produce properly” OR “I need more time on this ad” OR “I can’t do anything creative in 30 seconds”.

Yes you can – and you’d better! Xolisa Dyeshana - Creative Director - Joe Public

Xolisa Dyeshana - Creative Director - Joe Public


Be careful of direct translations. Make sure your translator understands the concept, so that they don’t merely translate the script, but capture the essence of the message in a way that will make sense and resonate in any language.

Xolisa Dyeshana - Creative Director - Joe Public


Be firm with your voice artist. Remember, he/she does many voice overs. Your challenge is to make him/her treat yours as their first.


Close your eyes. Radio is theatre of the mind and one of the best ways of gauging whether your ad will make an impact is to simply close your eyes during the session and see what picture comes to your mind as you listen.

Xolisa Dyeshana - Creative Director - Joe Public


create magic Involve your engineer. Just as a director and DOP work together when shooting a TV commercial, your vision has to be in sync in order to create magic.

Xolisa Dyeshana - Creative Director - Joe Public

Xolisa Dyeshana - Creative Director - Joe Public


A great radio ad starts off with the copywriter. The best scripts always come from writers that have a passion for words – not just a love for writing. You can’t produce a brilliant ad without a brilliant script.

Tanja Rae - Head of Radio Production - Net#work BBDO

028 Stir up an emotion. You have to feel something when you hear the ad. Tanja Rae - Head of Radio Production - Net#work BBDO

029 Make sure your script is in the hands of a brilliant audio engineer. They are the unsung heroes but play a huge role in bringing the concept to life.

Tanja Rae - Head of Radio Production - Net#work BBDO


Play around with ideas

and be passionate about what you do. Make sure that the producer is as passionate about your script as you are. They need to understand what you are hearing in your head, and make it come to life.

Tanja Rae - Head of Radio Production - Net#work BBDO


It’s been said before and it’s not always possible when your client basically rewrites your beautifully crafted script, to make it a retail read (killing any semblance of the concept you’ve worked on!) or inserts so many finance conditions that the read begins to sound like listening to the stock exchange, so I’ll say it again –

Cut through the clutter! Create a great concept and steer clear of diluting it. Natalie Sutton - Radio Producer - Net#work BBDO


With radio you have a captive (albeit, sometimes reluctant!) audience. This audience usually ‘zones out’ when the ad comes on, so do different, do fresh, do something that gets people saying; “have you heard that ad?” Make advertising interesting and worth listening to.

Natalie Sutton - Radio Producer - Net#work BBDO


Watch your timing! It’s completely unprofessional to start cutting copy in a session and it’s almost always detrimental to the final spot. Time your scripts before you sell them to your client as 30” spots and then find you cannot deliver on this.

Natalie Sutton - Radio Producer - Net#work BBDO


Great humour works beautifully every time. People love a good chuckle when they’re sitting in traffic.

Natalie Sutton - Radio Producer - Net#work BBDO


The one thing I really allow voiceover artists to do is to become the role. Most of them are actors, or have been doing voiceovers for a long time and can take the script and make it that much better. Allow them to play around a bit, especially after you’ve got the spot you need for client. You never know what you will get. Sometimes it will make the spot way better, at other times it’s better to stick with the safe spot.

Theo Egbers - Copywriter - The Jupiter Drawing Room


Time your scripts accurately. Copywriters have a tendency to write scripts that help sell the idea to client, and then don’t alter it before going into studio. Suddenly a 30 second script takes 45 seconds to read and then you have to do some quick editing, phone the client (if they aren’t there) and it becomes a struggle. To be on the safe side, time your scripts before presenting them to client.

Theo Egbers - Copywriter - The Jupiter Drawing Room

038 If you are translating into other languages, remember that an English script translated into another language will almost always be longer. A 30 second script will miraculously become a 35 second script. Book longer media, or write a shorter script.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


grrrrrr Don’t get angry during a recording. This is not good for the creative ambiance. Step outside. Get a breathe of fresh air. Go back with a smile and make it work.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Actors can act. Make use of them in your radio spots. Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg

040 Learn some terminology to help you to communicate with your sound engineer more effectively. Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Don’t be afraid to use classic jokes. They make many people laugh and are easier to communicate to the masses in the short time you have.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg



Be sure to have your most recent scripts with you.

Voicebank is your friend.

Make this your responsibility. If everyone else has the script without the changes that were approved the afternoon before, it can waste valuable recording time.

Spend some time finding the voices you would like to use for your radio ad. Don’t always rely on your radio producer to find the voices for you. Put this power in your own hands.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


When working with a voice artist that you like, be sure to keep their contact details. Make notes on why you enjoyed working with them. This will make your life a lot easier when you need to use them again.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg

046 Pay attention. You are there to record an amazing radio ad. Don’t sit there with your laptop open, checking the status of the world on the Internet.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Read your script in front of other people. When you do this, you become more aware of the necessary pauses that are required to give a script the space to breathe.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Somebody owns everything. Make sure you research the rights of any material before you sell your script to the client. This will avoid unnecessary trauma when you find out that the whistle from that big movie is actually owned and you can’t use it - and it was what your client loved about the script to begin with!

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Recording studios will have advanced speakers as well as normal ones. Make sure you listen to the ad through normal speakers, so you get an idea of what people will be hearing through their radio or in their cars.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


If you can split your recording session over two days, do it. This will give you time to listen to it away from the studio, and help you come back with fresh ears and new ideas.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Ideas can come from anyone and anywhere. Be open to ideas from the client or voice artist.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


Give some thought to what you’d like your radio ad to sound like, before you get into the recording studio. Send the script and your ideas to the engineer the day before. This will give them ample time to collect the relevant sound effects and possible music options, giving you more time to craft the ad.

Tian van den Heever - Creative Director - DraftFCB Johannesburg


The visual medium of television, the tactile/visual medium of newsprint, the electronic medium of the Internet and all its permutations… none compares with the sheer immediacy, the unadulterated and unfettered reality of radio – and its relationship to our mind’s eye.

Carolyn Frost - Editor - Bolander newspaper


Radio is not required to conform to increasing standards of aesthetic appeal (and sheer sensationalism) where the audience has to do little more than placidly observe (and absorb) whatever images have been carefully selected to convey a particular message or agenda. The medium is immediate to a much greater extent. The concept of talk radio alone, offers the unique reality of listener participation – which is completely random, and offers a unique insight into our country, and the diversity of its inhabitants.

Carolyn Frost - Editor - Bolander newspaper


Radio can be a great companion, offering news, insights and practical information. It has the unique ability to filter through material ranging from the kind that prompts our intellectual (or spiritual) growth, to breaking news stories as they unfold. It connects us, and ignites our imagination, and make us aware of the universality of experience.

Carolyn Frost - Editor - Bolander newspaper


Pre-Prod your work

Get your producers, creative director, and the production house involved. Send scripts to the sound editor, get him to suggest voiceovers and effects. After all, these guys work with artists every day. They know good voices!

Theo Egbers - Copywriter - The Jupiter Drawing Room


Remember! You are in charge. You wrote the script. You know what you want it to sound like. You sold it to client. If you don’t like a suggestion, say so. Don’t be pushed over by overzealous account managers or clients. After all, it goes down as your work.

Theo Egbers - Copywriter - The Jupiter Drawing Room



Be willing to adapt. Sometimes the voice over artist, the client, your art director or the sound editor (we like to call them the ‘sound guy’) come up with better ways to say something. A new word here, cut a word there. Don’t be afraid to listen to everyone involved. It will make the spot that much better.

Theo Egbers - Copywriter - The Jupiter Drawing Room


Have fun. We are here to create entertaining radio spots. So when you are writing the script, think about what will entertain you the most. When you are recording, try new things, new sound effects, words. If it’s a funny script, make sure everyone in the room is laughing. If it’s a serious script they must be crying! And so on... But most importantly, just have fun.

Theo Egbers - Copywriter - The Jupiter Drawing Room



059 Radio is becoming ‘bigger than it’s footprint’, and by using the chosen radio brand’s entire offering, including online, promotions and events, the client is really tapping into the strength of the radio station’s relationship with its audience. The fact that radio is a great ‘response’ platform, as well as the strong bond consumers have with their chosen station, makes this medium an excellent platform for effective communication.

Radio offers several advantages. Its production is cheap (without a compromise on quality!), its audience is often captive - and most importantly - together with a great idea it offers the power to arrest the listener, and punch home the message like few other mediums can. Because with radio, everything is laid bare, there are no beguiling pictures to distract you from the absence of a great idea or great writing. It’s just you, the listener and an arresting idea. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity. There’s more to be said for a great idea. And simple ideas are the best. They’re invasive. They’re delightful. They’re why we do what we do.

Eve Pennington - Consumer Context Manager - Starcom MediaVest Group

Grant Jacobsen - DraftFCB Johannesburg - Executive Creative Director

061 The best radio ads are those that are short, informative and funny. The funnier the better in fact! Let’s remember that the ads are invading our space, so they have to be good, otherwise they end up irritating us. American accents for example, irritate me because I don’t appreciate the fact that advertisers just assume I respect something purely because it’s American. There are certain ads that irritate me because they lack absolutely EVERYTHING that makes a good ad. No style, no humour, a terrible voice, and inarticulate speech. In other words, just an invasion of our audio space.

Katie Miller - Copywriter - PokerPros


Establish academies that foster the growth of young black creatives and encourage them to script ads in their mother tongue. Hearing an ad that has been written in English, and directly translated into vernacular (often in an effort to cut costs!) not only ends up misleading the listener, it falls short of capturing the idiomatic nuances of a particular language. Invest in proper language experts who will ensure that the ad/campaign works within the vernacular.

Andile Ndlovu - Translator/Copy Editor - DRUM magazine



Edutainment features have the capacity to synergise strategy with creative execution, product function with emotion.

It’s essentially all about breaking that 30” barrier. Every marketer is seeking an effective and interactive experience for their brand. Radio delivers intimacy, immediacy and imagination. But for the campaign to truly move its audience, the communication must move beyond the 30” spot. If a campaign is created to be perceived as part of radio programming, a destination listening platform is created. Listeners are driven to a specific time slot on their favourite station where they can engage with an edutainment feature, creating a relationship with the program and, by extension, the brand itself.

Lynn Joffe - CEO - Creatrix

From baking to banking, soccer to cellphones, each unique feature fuses a variety of communication aspects into one synergistic entity that encompasses;

interactivity presenter engagement, familiarity, loyalty, competitions, incentives intimacy emotional connection with listeners imagination storytelling and theatre of the mind immediacy mouth to mouth, while it’s happening relevance topicality, current events, immediate response frequency continual messages at different times/dates language traditional cultural values and heritage credibility word of mouth, presenter involvement unique content added value of branded programming

Lynn Joffe - CEO - Creatrix



Radio Edutainment provides an ongoing, interactive destination platform that makes a regular appointment with the target market on their terms, on their turf, in their language. It’s a communication gestalt where the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.

With radio being a medium that is live 24/7, creatives, advertisers and media planners alike need to tap into this connection between listener and DJ, via sponsorships, promotions, eventing or give-aways.

Lynn Joffe - CEO - Creatrix

Richard Proctor - MD - Vizeum


If you really want to get the most out of your radio campaign and the stations that you have selected, meet with the station - not only the sales representative. Include the marketing manager and find out what the station’s main initiatives are in terms of station promos, CRM initiatives, CSI initiatives or how they are attracting listeners. In this way, you end up using radio as a 360-degree solution that not only provides a better connection with your consumer, but also yields a better Return on Investment.

Richard Proctor - MD - Vizeum

068 Radio attracts an audience.

Because radio stations need to generate revenue streams, they sell marketers the opportunity to address that audience, talk about their products and influence their behaviour. All of this is logic. Where the problem arises, however, is the way marketers talk to listeners. Remember, people see radio as a friend. You don’t shout at friends when you want them to buy your brand, you have a conversation with them.

John Farquhar- Editor at Large - Wag The Dog Publishers (Pty) Ltd


Key ingredients to developing an effective radio media plan

Listeners don’t tune in to listen to advertising. Advertising commercials interrupt the entertainment offering radio listeners are responding to. What should be a great medium to influence consumer choice is dumbed down because most commercials are rude in the sense that they interrupt instead of enlightening the listener. Radio is portable, while giving you the opportunity to listen to entertainment and information of your choice with a twist of the dial. What more can you ask for? Just better commercials.

John Farquhar - Editor at Large - Wag The Dog Publishers (Pty) Ltd


Understand the brand: One of radio’s strongest selling points is its immediacy. Advertising can therefore be planned strategically to reach the listener when they are most receptive to the brand message. For example, advertising home loans on Sunday afternoon or Monday mornings and advertising breakfast cereals within the morning-drive will reach the market when they are most receptive.

Ilan Lazarus - Director - Page Three Media


Understand the target market: Consumers are creatures of habit and as radio is a habitual medium, it can be used to build awareness through various strategic approaches. The primary responsibility is to fully understand the target market and their average day usage of radio, as listeners usually follow similar listenership patterns each day. This allows us to build both reach and frequency more cost-efficiently.

Ilan Lazarus - Director - Page Three Media


Understand the campaign objectives: Determine the client’s campaign objectives and translate them into relevant media objectives, which the radio plan will ultimately answer. For example, a teaser campaign will generally require higher reach yet lighter frequency levels, compared to the introduction of a new category/launch, which will require higher frequency levels.

Ilan Lazarus - Director - Page Three Media


Work closely with the creative team: Each radio station offers a different programming environment. Consider this to ensure the commercial being flighted befits the environment. This applies to both the station selection, as well as the time channel in which the ad flights, as many presenters offer uniquely different formats. Whether listening actively or passively, the listener is ultimately receptive to the mood and sounds of the radio station, so the advertising should fit the environment of the stations in order to enhance engagement.

Ilan Lazarus - Director - Page Three Media


Plan responsibly within the given budget: There are many campaigns which flight with underweight media pressure as a consequence of a minimal budget. The ultimate result is a below threshold frequency level and a campaign that quite simply does not perform as well as expected. If the budget is tight, limit the number of radio stations to generate sufficient frequency across fewer stations.

Ilan Lazarus - Director - Page Three Media


Use the power of personalities. One of the main reasons why listeners have the relationship they have with stations is because of the connection with the personalities from those stations. It’s not just about the music. By using the voice of a personality on your spot, you’re leveraging the relationship that the listener has with that personality. Will that cost you more? Yes – and it should – because it’s worth much more!


We’re not in the business of selling spots. We’re in the business of connecting consumers with advertisers, mediated by our companies, in the way they want to be connected. Whatever the mechanism, whatever the venue – whether it’s radio or not. It doesn’t matter how many consumers you reach. What matters is what they do when you reach them.

Mark Ramsey - US media/radio thought leader, MRM President and regular RAB contributor


Mark Ramsey - US media/radio thought leader, MRM President and regular RAB contributor

Establish a definition of success. The problem we have in a lot of advertising situations is that money is spent without a clear understanding of how to gauge success. We know we have the budget and we want to spend it at the lowest cost per point. And then what? The real measure of success should be what you want to be different i.e. do you want to raise awareness? do you want the cash register to ring? do you want increased feet through the door? Ask yourself what it is you want to do that justifies expenditure.

Mark Ramsey - US media/radio thought leader, MRM President and regular RAB contributor

078 Think in (verbal) pictures. You’ve heard the expression ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, but a few words can paint a very clear picture. You don’t necessarily need 1000. One of the biggest criticisms of radio is that it’s not visual enough. An ad tends to be in the form of two people talking or three mentions of a telephone number. All this is important but none of it matters unless your advertising has the intended impact towards your goal. Think and write in pictures. In that way, the spot can be visualized by the audience. It makes a stronger impression, which ultimately means fewer repeats are required to get your message across.

Mark Ramsey - US media/radio thought leader, MRM President and regular RAB contributor

RAB insights


A great starting point in any radio creative process is to establish a clear understanding of the role that radio will play within your media mix. The brief is the most important component in the advertising process, so spend time preparing a radio brief that encompasses all the essential elements.


Grab them from the get-go. Good radio should stimulate the mind. One word or carefully crafted and delivered phrase has the ability to erupt into a thousand pictures, emotions and feelings, allowing the listener to immerse themselves in the experience.


Leave out telephone numbers. They take up a lot of time that you could use to talk about your products or services. If you insist on having a number, make sure it is easy to remember and repeat it at least twice. Otherwise, you are just wasting time.


Use a testimonial from people who have tested or used your product/ service before. People like testimonials, especially if they come from a name or a company they trust.


What looks and sounds good as a script will sometimes not translate into a good radio ad. And visa versa. Don’t be disillusioned.


Writing for radio is a difficult discipline to master.

Be ready to take the call. Companies often spend large sums of money on advertising, but fail to answer when enquiries are made. Every missed call represents missed revenue. Have people on standby when the ads are flighted.



Know your music. Go to your recording session early, if you can, and ask to go through their music library. Search for songs that might work for your ad. This will save time.

Consider using a strong, open-ended question that’s pertinent to your company and/or industry, which the average listener can relate to. Examples include; ‘Are you paying too much for your medical aid?’ or ‘Is your home as safe as it could be?’ By posing a question like this, the listener could be compelled to want to hear the solution, which should be in your ad.


If your audience, product or service is fairly broad, consider broadcasting your ad on several stations at once. In this way, you get multiple exposure, reach those people who frequently switch stations, and are more likely to benefit from word-of-mouth, after the ad has been flighted.


Sensory words win, no matter what product or service you’re selling. You wouldn’t advertise a ‘chunk of beef served with a dollop of sauce’, now would you? But a ‘sizzling Porterhouse steak, grilled just the way you like it and topped with a warm creamy sweet onion Hollandaise sauce’, and you’re cooking! Give some thought to the sensory experience you want your clients to have when they deal with you, and include this in your ad.


It’s important for people to know that they’re hearing a commercial for the same business, even when they hear slightly altered versions on different stations. To standardise the sound of the spots done on different stations (and if at all possible) use the same female or male voice on all spots and request the same music or energy you want put into the voice e.g. an energetic read vs. a laid-back one.


We know of very few cars with TV’s or drivers who can safely read the newspaper while driving. This makes radio the ultimate mobile medium - its strength being drive-time when most people are in their cars, driving to and from work. The advertising on radio targets you passively. You don’t have to be looking at it or reading it to get the message – so capitalise on this.


Value is no longer a measure of reach and rates. Count connections – not ears!





Be sincere. Avoid bragging, boasting or exaggerating. If your ads SCREAM excessive claims, believability flies out the window.

Tune in and listen to other commercials before you write your own. You’ll notice that they all ask you to take a specific action. Decide what action you want your customer to take; is it a phone call, a visit, a hit on your website – by all means, be specific!

Avoid using general statements such as, “We give good service”. Rather explain exactly how you serve your customers e.g. “When you buy with us, our professionals teach you all about the product and even help you install it”.

Clarify your message. Research shows that listeners misunderstand a lot of – if not most - communication. Don’t force your voice over artist to speak too fast. People better understand a simply worded and simply presented message.


Tailor your radio message around what consumers are dealing with at the time, but make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t necessarily remind them of the difficulties they might be facing.


You don’t want to, (and can’t possibly) reach everyone all at once, so choose that right someone. It is better to reach 10% of the people 100% of the way than to reach 100% of the people, only 10% of the way.


Don’t make the mistake of choosing a station, programme or DJ based on your own personal likes or dislikes, select the station(s) according to the audience you want to reach.


Make it relevant. As stereotyped as it might sound, you wouldn’t possibly have a male voice-over artist advertising nappies or cook-in-sauces, so choose the right voice for your product or service.


Competitions are great at inciting participation and excitement, however, consider the fact that there are those who tune in purely for information and entertainment value. Make sure your promotion/ competition is entertaining for both participants and non-participants.


Keep an eye on your competitors. If they cut back on their adspend, it could be a great opportunity for your company to capture a stronger market share. Advertisers who reap the rewards are those that look at a recession as an opportunity to increase their market share while their competition makes cut-backs. As Henry Ford once put it; ‘A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time’.

Radio Advertising Bureau South Africa / +27 11 325 4935 / www.rab.co.za

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