In-depth: What is killing creativity in radio advertising? sat down with experts to try and understand whether there's a lack of creativity in radio advertising nowadays and if it is so then what are the reasons behind it

Nisha Qureshi
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In-depth: What is killing creativity in radio advertising?

The Radio category this time at Abby Awards 2022 had just a Bronze and Silver winner. In fact, the number of entries from the radio players was also negligible this time. spoke to industry leaders about the probable reasons behind the drop in representation from the category from industry awards like Abby’s and also the big question, which is – whether it was the result of an actual lack of creativity in radio advertising or just a lack of representation? 

Ramanuj Shastry

Ramanuj Shastry- Director and Co-Founder of Infectious Advertising, who was also the jury chair for Radio craft for the 2022 Abby awards, said there are not enough entries from radio players. 

“The winning campaigns this time definitely stood out, but there were not too many entries, to begin with.  This is surprising because nothing is stopping them from entering their work in this space. Radio is actually very active with ads, integrations etc. Not enough radio players are entering their work for awards. Probably they are doing great work but we are not getting to see it. The number this time was very negligible, you can understand when you have only 2 winners,” Shastry said. 

On the other hand, ad veteran Agnello Dias believes that while there isn’t a lack of creativity, but it was the pandemic that might have affected the demand for radio advertising.

Agnello Dias

“I don’t think there is a lack of creativity. Radio listenership happens mostly when people are commuting like taking a train, bus, driving etc. In normal life, the audio medium is consumed when you can’t use your other senses. A lot of that was knocked down in the pandemic. This may have affected the quantum of advertising demanded by clients,” Dias said.

Bobby Pawar

Adding to this, Bobby Pawar, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, Havas Group India, said radio advertising today is becoming more inclined towards content because of RJ integrations, sponsorships etc. 

“As far as the audio medium is concerned, it has to be able to put up visuals in your mind. Radio is a form of storytelling; we learn stories by listening to our grandmothers and parents and those stories are hardwired into our brains. It is not like people don’t want to listen, the podcasts and (audio) Ebooks are growing,” Pawar said. 

“Radio is actually all about craft because you use only one sense that is listening and that is also diminishing because of the last two years. People are not focusing on radio as they were anymore, be it, marketers or creators,” he added. 

Creative agencies vs in-house teams  

While some industry leaders suggest that the pandemic years took a lot of listenership away from radio, others think the big reason behind the alleged lack of innovation in the sector is that the mainline agencies don’t work on radio spots anymore. 

Emmanuel Upputuru

Celebrated copywriter and ex-Chief Creative Officer, Cheil India, Emmanuel Upputuru, feels that the genesis of this started when radio stations started offering to create and write spots on their own as a part of the radio media plan. 

“Radio stations not only write it (spots) but also produce and publish it as a part of the package. Therefore, creative teams have almost no role in creating content for radio, that is the overall situation. This has been happening for over a decade. However, I am not saying that the problem is creativity, as creativity can be manifested in every area,” he said. 

Explaining the issue further, Shastry of Infectious Advertising said that over a period of time radio platforms had started offering brands that they themselves will take care of the creative and the broadcast. Hence, slowly and steadily brands directly started dealing with FM stations.

“As a result, the radio spots or the RJ integrations became the responsibility of radio in-house teams. However, this is not saying that they are less creative. Just that we were responsible for the tonality of mainline campaigns as well as radio campaigns. So even a radio spot used to go through the likes of Prasoon Joshi or Piyush Pandey. That was the level of talent that used to supervise radio spots earlier,” Shastry said.

Radio advertising