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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

The great outdoors

Radio stations have to work a whole lot harder to achieve visibility than most products, brands and services. Our primary product is invisible. So I feel a little underwhelmed by the bus sides currently running in London for Magic 105.4.

Magic bus side in london

It’s great to see a major station on the streets but I’m not convinced that a positioning line and station logo is enough to cut through the clutter in a city like London.

I’m in no place to scoff though, having had a hand in this campaign. The short-lived London Live service has been conveniently wiped from the BBC’s corporate memory:

BBC London Live drivetime ad

Our campaign for this short-lived station promised “London as you’ve never heard it”. Mercifully, few did.

The good stuff

So, which radio stations have used outdoor really well? Here is some eye-catching work from around the world. Plenty of straplines and logos but also a stack of ideas.

If you have your own favourite outdoor radio work do share it with me and I’ll add it to the gallery.

Radio Contact, Belgium

Whatever happens, feel good. Simple, campaignable idea with dramatic photography-led story telling.

Radio Contact - helipad

Sonic 104.9, Canada

Hat-tip to friend-of-Earshot James Cridland for spotting this in Toronto. You can’t beat a personal recommendation so Sonic’s use of an endorsement via Twitter adds real social capital. The world’s brainiest radio consultant Francis Currie added “It’s a good idea … And in Cialdini’s world of persuasion, a great example of social proof.” Yes, he cited Cialdini. That’s our Francis.


Absolute Radio, UK

When Absolute Radio started to use personality and not just music in its advertising it created this, now iconic, 48-sheet poster. Arguably the art direction is a little cluttered but the poster speaks volumes about the brand and has the makings of a modern classic.

Absolute Radio - faces for radio

Oui FM, France

What’s not to like about this immersive, nerdy map of the Metro? Your train will be here before you’ve read half the names. Click for the big original.


Kabul Rock 108, Afghanistan

I love this because it looks so incongruous to Western eyes. There’s a bit of rock and roll in all of us, you know. Even him.


FM 102, Israel

This is really clever and possibly illegal. FM 102 went around Tel Aviv sticking their station information around anywhere they could find the numbers 102. What a superb way to communicate that a radio station is part of the fabric of the city. Vandaltising is born.

102 israel

102 israel 2

Hot 89.9, Canada

Speaking of births, this Canadian radio station provoked a media storm over its “Win a baby” promotion in which listeners competed to win £21,000 worth of fertility treatment.  Critics found it “tacky” but surely a wipe with a tissue would fix that. In the end 400 couples applied and the winners were chosen by public vote. The ad campaign ensured the station became famous for this promotion.

Hot 89.9 baby

Nova, Ireland

More baby action now from Dublin’s Nova which ran a campaign of cute baby pictures, each named after a core station artist. The ads marry passion for music with a clear target of young parents. It takes a bit of copy to make the concept clear but it’s worth it.


Capital, UK

Actually for Capital’s TV channel, not its radio product but the concept is largely platform neutral. Great photography. I wonder how they managed to get The Wanted?

Radio 2, Netherlands

This collaboration between Radio 2 and the media owner Interbest Outdoor built intrigue and talkability before the reveal which celebrated Radio 2 as a kind of saviour. It could be any brand on the reveal but good on Radio 2 for having the guts to be part of this. It’s mostly an ad for outdoor media so I hope the station paid very little.

Radio 2 - stripper

Kick 106, New York, USA

A delightfully cheesy piece of vintage work from the US. We need a visual metaphor for when country music comes to New York. Of course – King Kong in cowboy boots. There’s no shame about being gimmicky, right down to the kicking Ks in the call letters.

new york is putting its boots on - vintage

KFI 640, USA

Los Angeles’ legendary AM talk station is so confident it owns radio news in its market that it can run a campaign that simply promotes a benefit of radio.

KFIAM yesterdays news billboard

The Sound, USA

St Louis’ modern music station (what is that format, exactly?) drove this video billboard from its “now playing” data feed to create a real time call to action. Not the most beautiful artwork but the concept works really well.


Beijing Sports Radio, China

We don’t see much media advertising from China in the West but if this is typical of the market standard we must work on that. A simple idea that immediately communicates sport + talk and which is highly campaignable and beautifully executed.

Beijng Radio - tennis

Beijing Sports Radio - golf

Beijing Sports Radio - basketball


The UK sports talk station has run a series of bold outdoor campaigns over the years, mostly centred on their major talent signings and event coverage. These are two of my favourites because they demand a second glance and a bit of engagement:

TalkSPORT - men unitedtalksport-ianwright

Radio Milwaukee, Canada

Another idea-led campaign that pushes home the station’s positioning and a clever way to celebrate the names of major artists without the cost of image rights. Used with the kind permission of Trevor Reiler.

Introducing new music - Cee-lo green

Introducing new music 89.9FM

BBC Radio Derby, England

No collection of outdoor radio ads is complete without a fail. Were it not obscured by a telegraph pole the ad would read “breakfast with a twist” but even that doesn’t make everything right – Phil Trow told Earshot that people kept asking him for months what the twist was and he had absolutely no idea. That’s what happens when you run a syndicated ad made by people who have never heard the show.

Phil Trow on BBC Radio Derby