Radiocentre’s Lucy Barrett picks her Desert Island Radio Ads

Lucy Barrett is client director of industry marketing body Radiocentre. She is a former editor of Marketing and spent five years as European communications director of JWT.

Radio is booming in the UK according to the latest figures from the Advertising Association. Here she chooses some examples of outstanding global creativity (click on the links to play the ads).

Desert Island Radio Ads

Fresh out of World Cup fever, it’s good to remind ourselves of this retro brilliance from McVities. There were so many of these radio ads – they had a different one for each day England were in the tournament, but ‘Pillows’ is the one that started it all off.

Pillows – McVities

People often accuse advertising of selling the unobtainable. This McDonald’s ad really plays on that, with a pie in the sky look at what customers could achieve by spending their 1p change after buying a 99p sandwich wisely.

South American Mining Venture – McDonalds

This Euromillions ad from Camelot riffs on the same theme: a lost set of keys is a handy plot device which allows the script to slowly reveal the enormous scale of one lucky couple’s lottery winnings.

Nice problems to have – Camelot

Thanks to my 8-year-old, I have now read nearly every Famous Five book and rediscovered the joy of Enid Blyton – this charming ad from Great Western Railway tells me everything I need to know about why taking the train is better than the car. Why drive indeed?

Great Aunt Fanny – Great Western Railway

Tesco’s advertising has taken a much more diversity-focused route with its current ‘Food Love Stories’ campaign, but I still miss Dotty. You can perfectly visualise her phoning her local branch. The casting of Prunella Scales for this campaign was inspired.

24 Hour Opening – Tesco

This AA advert makes me laugh, not least because for the first few years after I passed my driving test, I used to think the same thing about the flashing gravy boat on my dashboard..

Gravy Boat – The AA

I’m a great advocate of using music in radio ads, as it has such a strong and lasting impact on the listener, and can ultimately become synonymous with the brand when it’s done right. This Flash ad is so obvious – yet so effective.

Colouring Book – Flash

Speaking of using music exceptionally’s one we made earlier. Radiocentre’s 2016 ad campaign targets high-profile marketers directly through the medium of original song encouraging them to advertise on the radio, in this case Unilever’s Keith Weed – we hoped he was into rap.

Keith Weed – Radiocentre

I love dogs, and this irresistible Purina ad reminds me how much they love me back. It’s a perfect example of where radio excels in a humorous way, with the true, non-human identity of the male voiceover gradually becoming clearer over the course of the ad.

Getting Home – Purina

Toblerone’s ‘Triangular Bees’ song is an original dreamed up by the brand’s creative agency, but it’s so great that it sounds like you’ve heard it a hundred times before. The Sinatra-esque crooning is perfectly produced, and it’s yet another example of how sonic branding can elevate a radio campaign.


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