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More standout campaigns from overseas

As with any medium, there are fail safes and standards that never let you down but, when you put a brief to your agency or radio station to do something that breaks through the clutter, do you have a reference point? Here are some clever radio ideas with which to challenge your radio supplier.

The most-standout campaign for me recently was the return of the Mental Health Minute. Across the UK, commercial radio and the BBC united to broadcast a one-minute message in support of mental-health awareness. First run in 2018, the 2019 spot ran simultaneously across national networks and community stations, as well as BBC Radio 1, Radio 2, and 5 Live.

That’s a few hundred radio stations and over 20m listeners.

We know radio is nothing without star power and, following on from Princes William and Harry, Lady Gaga and Dame Judi Dench last year, the latest version saw Prince William return, this time with Stephen Fry and Katy Perry, among others.

I really loved this campaign — the right message with the right execution at the right time.

A roadblock, style take-over like this is nothing new, but the sheer scale of over 400 stations with this coordinated approach is a thing to marvel. It was driven by the UK radio industry body, Radiocentre, and shows the absolute necessity for having a powerful local, independent authority — something we miss in South Africa.

Downsides

There are downsides to radio takeovers, though.

In Brazil, every radio station is mandated to carry one hour of government messaging every single day. So, at 7pm, all stations break normal programming and cut to The Government Hour.

Listeners are still able to listen to the upbeat and contemporary Radio SulAmérica Paradiso FM through its app, which carries on as normal. But, in a city with the eighth worst traffic in the world and South African-like attitudes to speed limits — if the app detects that you are breaking the speed limit —it takes you back to The Government Hour for one-minute as a penalty.

Radio is at its best when it understands the loves and hates of its listeners — and it’s even better when it prompts listeners to change a habit.

Both campaigns highlighted this month, while more public service in nature, showcase how radio and its enormous reach can be an amazing catalyst for behaviour change and awareness, so keep that in mind when designing your next radio campaign.

Paulo Dias