MY FM – Radio A Game Changer

KV Sridhar

Chief Creative Officer, India SapientNitro

Radio is a theater of the mind. With the use of sound design and modulation you can paint any picture in the minds of the listener.
Emphasizing on how Radio is a platform of immense potential albeit not fully realized, KV Sridhar, popularly known as ‘Pops’ shares his experience on Radio advertising.

Q1. Tell us about your favourite campaign? What mediums were used to execute it?

We did one for a Bajaj 125cc bike way back in the mid 90’s. The objective was to show how fast it was. At that time 100cc bikes were ruling the roads. We did it on Radio. We made a 15 second spot in which the first 9 seconds we did nothing. We used the power of silence. Then in the remaining 6 seconds we used the sound of the engine throbbing and revving and finally vanishing. Using silence we made our point that how fast the bike was. Radio is a theater of the mind. With the use of sound design and modulation you can paint any picture in the minds of the listener. We did exactly that. We used silence as a medium to tell the about the power of an engine. It became popular and won many awards.

Q2. How do you analyse the success of a Radio Campaign?

The beauty of Radio is that it can give content at a low price. It is cost effective and and you can reach a higher number of people with it. Like instance, we did a radio campaign in 8 or 10 languages and then aired them in different parts of the country. We also experimented by airing the bengali version in Tamil Nadu and so on and it was well received. You see you can easily experiment because of its low cost. And also when you speak in a local dialect you become a local person thereby connecting with the locals better.

Secondly it is also a high involvement medium hence engagement is high. People listen to the entire ad. Men and women from urban and rural areas alike, listen to Radio. Thus by all these brand affinity goes up which I believe is how we analyse the success.

Q3. According to you, how important is a good script in making a radio campaign successful?

It is very important. Brands have their own personality. And scripts define this personality. Crafting a script according to the brand’s personality should be the aim. As I said radio is the theater of the mind. You can create the sense of being near the Niagara falls without actually being there. And all this is possible only if you have a well crafted script. Many famous Bollywood writers started with radio only. Take for example Nitesh Tiwari and Prasoon Joshi. You have to be a wordsmith to craft a script that will tickle the imagination of the audience.

Q4. How can a marketer leverage radio as a medium to reach out to his target market?

Marketers need to know their audience. We once did an Ariel ad about how using Ariel will help ladies have soft hands. We reached out to the husbands and asked them how would they feel if their wives had rough hands. They should show their love and give them Ariel. That’s how we made the Ariel ad.

You see in rural areas people live in joint families. Newly wed couples do not get much opportunities to express their love for each other. So we devised a plan. We asked the couples to dedicate songs to their partners anonymously. Unlike the tickers in TV. So whenever they heard their song they knew that it was for their partners. We connected with the people there. Marketers must know how to do this. They should get past the sales pitch and the cliched lines. It is not easy to connect but it is possible. Especially with radio as radio brings with it an emotional connection. 25 years back marketers and media planners used to sit together to chalk out a strategy. Nowadays this does not happen and a lot of potential of the radio is left unused.

Q5. Its effectiveness and ability to reach out to the masses in tier II and III cities have always attracted marketers towards it. Any other benefits that marketers targeting these areas can look at leveraging through radio advertising?

People in tier 2 cities have a different approach to ads than the ones of tier 3 cities. Local brands can leverage this fact. They can use radio to penetrate into those parts of the cities or towns where TV’s reach isn’t much. Again, radio can be used to make ad in the regional language. There is a lot of potential in radio and marketers must understand this.

Q6. How does your approach change when creating advertisements for Radio in a particular campaign?

It depends on the client. Many focus on the reach of the ad and some on the impact. When it’s based on the reach then there is very little scope in creativity. You only focus on how to get to maximum people. But when it’s about the impact then you sit and think how to create an emotional connection with the audience and then start working. You look into the intricate details of the audience, get more resources, and create a better soulful ad.

Q7. How do you see the growth of Radio industry in India?

I believe it can grow much faster than it is doing now because the base is small and cost is less. There should be proper planning in the entire radio industry. Technology has changed the media industry. Smartphones can be a good platform for micro content and also would give a bigger reach. Radio needs to reinvent itself. They need to adapt and adopt themselves according to the changing trends of the people. Data is cheaper hence people would consume more content. Audio will come first and video second. Thus content too should be curated and changed according to the trend. Radio must evolve and embrace the change else they’ll suffer just like the brick and mortar stores.


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