Public service ads dominate award shows. They’re the ones that persuade us to stick to the speed limit, become an organ donor, or stop smoking. Essentially, they’re raising awareness for things we already agree with.
Last year, out of all the categories broadcast on Australian radio, only 7% were Public Service.
The figures in The States and UK are similar. Yet, at Cannes they represented 30% of all awarded entries (54 of 177). So, it’s pretty clear which category ambitious creatives focus their efforts on.
Surely degree of difficulty needs to be factored in, and we all know it’s much harder to promote the benefits of a new car than the benefits of wearing a seatbelt.
As a judge, I look for any work that elicits an emotional response, and if a piece of work for a cold, heartless brand that exists only to only to turn a profit can achieve that, it’ll get my vote every time.
With that in mind, we went back and re-listened to this year’s Cannes winners to bring you our top 10 radio ads that actually sell stuff.
Because we believe selling stuff is a tricky business and we wanted to give a shout out to those who have done it exceptionally well.
10. Flex – Mattress (Shortlist) | Sra. Rushmore, Spain
An absolutely savage story, hilarious conclusion, and product benefit (somehow) fit comfortably in this 20-second spot.
VO: He pretended to be interested in the high-pressure steam cleaner to get the salesman to clean the rugs, curtains… and even the grease from the stove hood. And you might ask yourself, how does he manage to sleep at night? Well…on a Flex mattress. Flex – the reparative rest nearly all of us deserve.
9. Nestle – Maggi Magic Sarap (Silver) |McCann Worldgroup, Philippines
Incredibly talented chefs are everywhere. Then there’s the ones in this campaign. A fun, clever way to sell the benefit without making your (horrible cook) target audience feel bad about themselves.
8. AIS – Cloud+ (Silver) | Y&R, Thailand
(Shown as a video for clarity) Radio spots don’t get much simpler or gripping than this. A perfect way to dramatise not having to make tough decisions.
7. Volkswagen – Pedestrian Monitoring System (Bronze) | Grabarz & Partner, Germany
This spot forces you to visualise the worst car accident imaginable to dramatise a benefit of a VW. But, instead of using shock tactics, it does so in a way that has you laughing the whole way through.
6. Mariskal Rock Radio (Gold) | Y&R Madrid, Spain
This campaign turns rock classics into terrible, terrible, terrible jingles to remind us that rock and advertising don’t mix – so listen to ad-free radio. (Perhaps it struck a chord because I’m guilty of this very sin…)
5. Duracell – Duralock (Gold) | Grey Africa, South Africa
Superbly written and performed, this spot hits you with a heavy dose of nostalgia to demonstrate Duracell’s lifespan.
4. Anchor – Milk (Silver) | Colenso BBDO, New Zealand
It’s easy to forget that the radio commercial you’re working on actually interrupts the listener. Which is why you need to do everything you can to make your commercial just as engaging as whatever you just rudely interrupted. Exactly what this spot does in spades.
3. Newsweek (Silver) | Y&R Prague, Czech Republic
News story fragments are cleverly cut together to tell a continuous week-long narrative, a simple, memorable demonstration.
2. KFC – Double Down Burger (Grand Prix) | Ogilvy & Mather Johannesburg, South Africa
Great radio doesn’t have to be funny. But when it works it works. And O&M Johannesburg has done it again with another witty, well-performed, and relatable campaign for KFC. I could listen to these all day.
1. Fully Booked Bookstore (Gold) | McCann Worldgroup, Philippines
A captivating way to tell a familiar story. Brilliant performances that entertained and draw you into the story. I was hooked from the first line right until the penny dropped with the reveal. Such a fresh way to demonstrate the power of books – that you’re not just turning pages, you’re living a life. Hats off to you, McCann.