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The rise of radio, Part I

The rise of radio, Part I

The downturn may have an upside for one overlooked advertising medium, Part I.


June 24, 2009 8:29 by

“I have a young daughter, she makes me listen to nursery rhymes while we’re stuck in traffic. Sometimes it’s nicer than listening to the radio,” says Peter Vegas, creative director at Impact BBDO in Abu Dhabi.

Ouch. Having hung around a one year-old for a couple of weeks last year, we know how bad some of those Barney nursery rhymes can be. (Elmo, however, is in a league of his own; he wasn’t made for kids in this writer’s opinion.) Creative directors such as Vegas are radio’s harshest critics because, let’s face it, listening to radio advertising in the UAE can be a pretty painful experience. It’s a medium plagued by dodgy scripts, bad voice-overs and even worse jingles.

That much is hard to dispute. So you wouldn’t expect to be told that as an advertising medium, radio is seemingly experiencing some kind of rebirth. And according to Chetan Fernandes, group creative director at Concept Group, it has the crisis to thank – at least in part. Fernandes recently announced the creation of a radio consultancy.

“In the recent past, how many articles have been written about radio? Quite a few,” he says. “We’ve not seen that happening in the past. So there is this new interest in the medium. With this downturn and recession, people have either slashed their marketing budgets or don’t have marketing budgets at all. And when you’ve slashed budgets, you still want that top of the mind recall, and therefore you go into cost effective mediums, such as radio.”

Steve Smith, chief operating officer of Arabian Radio Network (ARN), says the downturn has sparked new interest from non-traditional radio advertisers. The network even hosted a three day radio seminar last month, showcasing advertising packages and giving out production tips to marketers.

“We’re getting a lot of inquiries from well-branded fast moving consumer goods. They look at radio and say, ‘You know what? That could actually work really well for us.’” Smith says that with print being the favourite advertising medium of the real estate industry, radio remains in a good position.

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