2011 was a low point for UK agencies in radio, with a blanket ‘null points’ scorecard presented across the category. No nominations were awarded, let alone Lions. For the nation that invented The Bard, The Beatles and the BBC, that result left much to be desired. Happily for us, that disappointment was not repeated this year and, while it’s not a trophy cabinet to make the England soccer team work harder, the UK came away with a more than respectable showing of 2 Silver Lions for ‘Tourism Ireland’ (JWT) and 4 Bonzes for ‘Metropolitan Police (AMV BDDO), ‘Women’s Aid’ (AMV BDDO), ‘War Child’ (Global Radio) and ‘Antony Nolan’ (Albion). Ogilvy & Mather were also nominated for Ford. While Not for Profit/charity commercials tend to do well in the radio category, it’s great to see the highest award of those go to a paying client. Well done to all those agencies. Let’s hope it marks the start of a radio renaissance for us: there’s a long way to go – but it would be fantastic to see a Gold in the mix in 2013.
Looking back on the winning entries, I’ve been thinking how we might achieve this. Chatting to one of the judges, Jo McCrostie from Global, she spoke about the sheer volume of entries (well into the 1000s). To achieve any standout, agencies should initially ensure their entries are as clear and concise as a winning CV. Consider video submissions: the judges will be grateful for the variety.
Another observation I had on listening to the entries was that while linguistic idiom doesn’t necessarily travel, the strongest concepts – the ‘good ideas’ – actually transcend language. Radio is too often used to tactical ideas but the emotional capabilities of the medium are still underexploited outside the Charity sector. Think of the power of music (John Lewis’ TV ‘The Long Wait’) or a well delivered speech (Honda is a fantastic example of voice on radio). A concept that delivers on an emotional level is category neutral and radio should tap into this more often.
The final thing I’d point to is progressive use of the platform. Today, radio lives and breathes on an ever-changing digital landscape – your mobile, your iPad, your PC. The Grand Prix was awarded to a campaign from Talent in Brazil that turned radio into an insect repellent by emitting a high frequency sound to deter mosquitoes. Thinking of audio in a context beyond spot – and even Sponsorship & Promotion advertising as we know it – would bring variety and a breath of fresh air to the category. Which after 3 days locked in a judging room, or quaffing rosé at the Gutter Bar, is exactly what those Cannes veterans probably need.
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