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Judging radio creative

Questions to ask when judging creative radio proposals

We know that creative treatment can make an enormous difference to the effectiveness of a campaign – that’s true in all media, but even truer with radio, we believe, because people are doing something else while listening. But how can you judge a creative proposal?

Here is a framework for judging creative ideas. Like all frameworks, it’s not perfect or exhaustive, but it’s worked for a lot of the marketers who attend RAB Training.

The 5 I’s are…

  1. Involvement
    • notice, engage and be drawn in? Will the ad involve the target audience?
  2. Identity

    • recognise and remember who the ad is from?
  3. Impression

    • take away an appropriate impression of the brand (including after multiple hearings)?
  4. Information

    • understand and remember the message being communicated?
  5. Integration

    • consciously or otherwise hear the ad as part of a wider campaign (other radio ads or other media), so achieving a multiplier effect?

The RAB uses the Five I’s Framework to quantify creative effectiveness within its ongoing radio campaign measurement tool, RadioGAUGE. With over 500 commercials having been measured using this method to date, the RAB has extracted some headline radio techniques for optimising a commercial’s impact against each ‘I’ (detailed below). Whilst it is acknowledged that this doesn’t cover every creative eventuality, it should provide advertisers with a helpful checklist when evaluating radio advertising concepts/scripts/demos for their brand.


– Nine out of ten people are dong something else when listening to radio, so it’s important that your ad is able to engage them in what you have to say. Higher scoring ads involve the listener either through building a sense of curiosity or intrigue, or through recognisable and valued audio constructs, such as voices and/or music.


– How can you ensure that the listener is instantly aware of who is speaking to them, especially when most advertisers have visual brand guidelines but very few have audio brand guidelines. The most effective ads clearly differentiate the brand through sound, using recognisable voices, music, strap lines and catchphrases. Collectively, these may add up to create an instantly recognisable scenario in the listener’s mind.


– How your ad leaves people feeling about your brand depends upon both the message and execution. As the message is derived from the brief, the key question when evaluating radio scripts/demos is whether it is being executed in a manner that will make the listener feel more positive about the brand. Better performing ads tend to be more respectful of the listener – both straightforward and conversational in tone – or use music to set a suitable mood. To score positively on this measure, try to avoid shouting at the listener, or using jarring sound effects.


– Many advertisers use radio to get important short-term tactical messages across that aren’t practical to execute in other media, so it’s vital to ensure that your ads are working optimally in this respect. The highest scoring ads present a single-minded message (multiple messages require multiple executions), often dramatising it through relevant sound or dialogue.


– It is extremely rare for radio to be the sole medium used within a brand campaign, so how can you best ensure that people link your radio commercial to the wider media campaign, to make sure that you benefit from the cross-media multiplier effect – especially when RadioGauge evidence highlights that ‘Integration’ is the most important ‘I’ in terms of driving overall creative effectiveness. The best performing ads use consistent audio elements from other media (especially TV) such as recognisable catchphrases or slogans, and/or voices and music. When done well, ads can stimulate a listener to subconsciously recall associated images from the related TV commercial, and effect we call ‘Virtual TV’, but at a fraction of the price.

Leave room for performance. Good actors will always have ideas for changes which can turn a good script into great radio – sign off the idea rather than the exact words

june, 2018

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