Former COI boss takes on the world’s worst job – improving UK radio creativity

It’s just never happened and it probably never will but that doesn’t stop brave people taking on the thankless task of making UK radio ads more creative, or even something you’d listen to without ear muffs.

Anyway the Radio Advertising Bureau has hired former COI deputy CEO Peter Buchanan to try to enthuse agencies about the benefits of commercial radio and how they can unlock these by producing ads that aren’t complete raucous shlock.

And, in comparison to working for a coalition government that decided to cut his department into bits and replace it with a benighted ‘big society’ effort to persuade media owners and agencies to run ads for nothing (they declined) it probably doesn’t seem such a bad gig.

So why are UK radio ads so awful?

It’s probably the dominance of the BBC which leaves commercial stations picking up what’s left of the audience and feeling they have to shout at them to make an impression. TalkSport, which has just hired defenestrated Sky presenters Andy Gray and Richard Keys, is a case in point.

A classy advertising environment it ain’t.

Back in the 1980s Philips ran a campaign, called ‘Phirips’, by Leagas Delaney featuring Gruff Rhys-Jones and Mel Smith, who also ran a production company called Talkback which (then) majored in radio.

Everybody said that this was what radio advertising could do and it was off to the races. But the campaign moved to TV and nothing much seems to have happened since.

Well good luck to Buchanan. Getting a meeting with an agency creative department about radio ads will be minor triumph.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.