Pages Navigation Menu

Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Sony Radio Academy awards 2011 marketing winners

It’s been a busy time for the radio industry with both the Sony Radio Academy Awards and RAJAR day combined. There’s certainly been a lot of champagne corks flying – this blog post takes a closer look at the winners of Marketing and Promotions related awards at this year Sony’s.

The 2011 Sony Radio Academy Awards have been hailed as a real success, especially for commercial radio in general taking home fourteen of the thirty two awards. The Sony Awards provides a moment for the whole industry to get together and celebrate the medium. Amongst awards which celebrate talent, programmes, production and people – there’s a small selection of awards which celebrate the successes of people and projects who work tirelessly in promoting the station or generating revenues. These are Best Use of Branded Content, Best Single Promo / Commercial, Best Promotional / Advertising Campaign and Best Competition. There was also an award for Best Live Event coverage. This blog looks in detail at the Best Use of Branded Content award, Best Advertising Campaign award, Best Competition award and the Best Live Event coverage award.

Best Use of Branded Content

With an industry average of 20% of commercial radio revenues relating to branded content – this award celebrates creativity in sponsorship and promotions across commercial radio.  Global Radio scored the Gold Award in this category in an engaging promotion that brought together both print, online and radio to personify a brand’s key messaging on Classic FM. The sponsor was Towry, who provide Independent Financial Advice and Independent Investment Management. Towry our claim to professionalism, they chose to use Alex Masterley (a fictional banker in the Daily Telegraph) and brought him to live via a 10 week commercial-led programming strand.  “Alex” was played by Cold Feet actor, Robert Bathurst to create an on air programme and podcast series of outspoken behaviours and classical musical delivered in an engaging way – with the attention of promoting the services of Towry.

This was a really clever way to bring together all media and create a character, which resonated well with the target audience, while also helping to strengthen the product offer from the client. It created engaging and tactical programming, which didn’t sound out of place within Classic FM programming and therefore encouraged the integration of the brand and amplification of the sponsor with ease. It also developed more creative content for the Classic FM brand and helped achieve more touch points with the audience in terms of additional marketing offer through podcasting, press ads and MPU banner placement.

Towry’s creative agency, CST The Gate adds “A budget that would have lasted 4 weeks with a traditional press campaign provided 15 weeks of highly targeted media. Traffic to the website increased by 30%. Call volumes by 800%. Tracking research showed that whilst all competitor awareness fell during the campaign period, Towry was the only firm to increase awareness and affinity”.

The judges said that “this was superb: inventive, engaging and a truly original way of branding content. Beautifully written, perfectly voiced and targeted. It was funny, intelligent, interesting and informative”.

You can listen to the Alex Masterley series here –

The Alex Masterley campaign is also nominated in the Branded Content at the Arqiva Commercial Radio Awards along with Absolute Radio and Kiss.

Silver went to Capital FM and Bronze went to Capital FM. Well done Global. Absolute Radio were also nominated for the Rock and Roll football strand with Sky Sports and the Wadsworth 6X Pub Quiz championship project.

Best Advertising Campaign

talkSPORT were one of the big winners of the night, picking up a raft of awards including the illustrious Station of the Year Award. The station picked up the gong for the Best Advertising Campaign as part of their efforts to promote their official broadcast rights and coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – something that certainly wasn’t a cheap buy!

Working with creative agency, Lionhouse – talkSPORT Creative created and implemented a mutli layered national advertising campaign which is quoted to be supported by a media spend of £1.5million delivered through on air trails, outdoor, press and digital activity.

The haul is the best in talkSPORT’s history and comes on the back of a year in which talkSPORT achieved record audience figures, growing its weekly reach by 24% to 3.1 million listeners, and its weekly listening hours by 20% to 24.5 million. (RAJAR Q4 2010). These figures are records for the station since it launched as Talk Radio in 1995 and rebranded as talkSPORT in 2000.

The World Cup campaign highlighted the station’s big name presenters, Harry Redknapp, Andy Townsend and Stan Collymore with a creative which linked the association of the competition to South Africa.

The campaign was based around a series of national 48 sheet poster campaigns at the start of the World Cup.

This was then brought to live within a YouTube video viral.


A series of newspaper adverts with daily executions promoting key games were delivered to provide a daily call to action within a series of national tabloid papers.

This was also supported by a Taxi campaign across the summer which was saw five hundred campaigns across key cities being branded by talkSPORT externally and internally.

The campaign was all brought to life on the air  (listen to example clip) bringing together the creative elements with clips of the match to reinforce the broadcasts to its listeners and ensure talkSPORT was top of mind for World Cup coverage at all times.

The judges said – “….unanimous in their verdict that this entry stood out. The depth and breadth of the material showcased the excellent creative work and production values. The trails were highly entertaining, totally in tune with the overall station sound and impressively responsive, adapting as the tournament progressed”.

Best Competition Award

On Air competitions play an important role in the radio station, and its role for its audiences. Firstly – they can provide a flagship feature which helps build and maintain audiences. Depending on the competition, the mechanic can help build hours and cross promote elements of the station. They provide entertainment and excitement, helping to bring the personality of the presenter through particularly within tight formatted networked radio – and finally, in commercial radio – they can help provide a platform for revenue building.

Global Radio’s Heart West Midlands scooped the gold award with their Breakfast Show mechanic called Beat the Star. A simple competition where listeners had to pit their wits against famous faces – it seemed Keith Chegwin was the outright winner scoring more points against the likes of Gok Wan, Leona Lewis and Westlife.

Have a listen to Karen from the West Midlands try to score more quiz points than Keith Chegwin:

The competition worked well because it showed how a large network like Heart have access to talent, it helps involve local listeners into the programming in a relaxed, yet exciting way during their morning listening journey.. It really takes away the barriers of ‘celebrity status’  and goes to show that celebrities are real people too as the presenters in the quote above show when they say “You know what Karen, you’re as clever as Leona Lewis!”.

The judges added: “This was the perfect on-brand contest combining a whole host of different elements to keep listeners engaged and smiling through the morning. This contest had warmth, humour and the seemingly unorthodox result that no one could be Keith Chegwin”.

Best Live Event Coverage Award

Live events create fantastic experiences for the immediate audiences enjoying the event – however, bringing the event experience to those not at the event using radio is a broadcast challenge that requires skills, creativity and imagination to create a story that paints pictures.

The Gold Award for the Best Live Event Coverage award goes to the BBC for their coverage of the Ryder Cup in 2010. The coverage, which was anchored by John Inverdale, provided golf fans with stroke-by-stroke commentary from the tournament in Wales. As well as commentary, the network provided preview and review programmes and brought the flagship Breakfast Show to the site too.

Here’s their award winning entry:

The mix of talent they used to bring the games included Nicky Campbell, Iain Carter, Andrew Cotter, John Murray, Clare Balding, Alistair Bruce-Ball with special reports from BBC Radio 2 presenter, Chris Evans. A notable element of the broadcast was to support the lack of play when it rained – something in which brought the radio coverage to life. The teams were able to create “colour pieces” quickly and easy to help craft their storyboard of the tournament to the audience.

The judges added – “An outstanding example of live radio coverage that demonstrated tension, humour, sensitivity, passion and pace. The Ryder Cup coverage by Radio 5 live became compulsive listening to everyone regardless of their love of the game of golf”.

I think the team at BBC Radio 5 must thank a certain female golf fan that provided some light relief after a day in the champagne bar – I think she’ll end up regretting this one day!

There’s a real strong selection of award entries above, showing that creativity in the radio industry is not stopping anytime soon. The radio industry is made up of an fascinating group of people who strive to succeed. Congratulations to all the award winners and nominees. If you’re planning on entering next year, or didn’t make the cut this year – hopefully the above notes will provide you with hints, tips and inspiration to score gold for your next radio marketing project.

Disclaimer – All posts and views are my own, and are not endorsed or representative of any current or previous employer.

Source: Radio Today, Global Radio, talkSPORT, Lion House Creative, BBC,