Creativity and Memorability of Radio Ads

By: Moss Jacobson

Radio advertisements have the unique ability to provide marketers a pathway to inject audio messages into consumers’ brains. Research has shown that with frequency of exposure (as should be best practice in all ad mediums) radio ads trigger echoic memory – messages delivered into our brains through our ears. Research has shown that these messages are more memorable because we create the associated visualizations from our own perspective and life experiences. And while echoic memories last longer than iconic (visual) memories, one can use creativity to further enhance memorability than simply using frequency alone.


Theater of the mind is a common concept used for developing highly effective radio ads that can have the greatest impact on message effectiveness. Theater of the mind is the technique in which radio producers, using just sound, are able to evoke rich images within listeners’ minds. This can be achieved through a variety of creative approaches such as using emotion, or descriptive information, but humor has proven to be the most potent tool for innovative radio ad memorability. Listen to some great examples from the renowned Dick Orkin’s Radio Ranch. If done correctly, ads causing laughter can create a memorable branding moment centered on positive emotion. The entertainment value of this method is even more critical for ad success since technology has provided many more media platforms. Again, this is where radio truly delivers above most other options – delivering, on average, 93% listener retention through commercial breaks (RAB).


Not to be outdone by radio, online advertising has made strides in delivering effective, humorous advertisements using solutions such as rich-media display and video. However, online ads can lose any benefit of their audio component – all too often set to auto-play. Chrome browser now has a feature to allow users an option that disables autoplay for entire websites. So proper planning of an integrated advertising campaign provides marketers the use of each medium’s best attributes. Combining radio and display advertising has shown to provide a 4.5X increase in brand recall. Use radio for highly engaging, creative audio messaging and display for aligned, supporting visuals. While so much attention is currently pointed toward online advertising, and some may laugh at this fact, radio remains the top way to reach consumers across all media platforms (Nielsen). Include radio in your media mix and, with creative humor delivering effective, highly memorable messages, have a healthy chuckle as you leave your competitors behind.

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