GLOBAL – OCTOBER 2011: If there is one thing that Ralph van Dijk could say about radio, it is that the medium is a practical one.
“On the car, on their phones, people listen to [the radio] for the same reason: they want to discover new music, they want to be connected to the local community or news. They want to feel like what they’re listening to is happening now and if anything breaks they are going to be on top of it,” said the founder of Eardrum, one of the most successful, most awarded radio agencies in the world.
To top it off, radio allows you to do all these while doing something else – cleaning, driving, or even eating – without taking away from the experience. “It’s too simple, too practical, for it to be overtaken,” van Dijk asserted.
The radio might be an old medium, but van Dijk, widely considered the world’s radio authority, begs to differ, especially in advertising. “Creators love the medium. They love it. Less client experience, they can experiment with it, and it’s a good avenue to win awards!” he exclaimed.
Despite its apparent simplicity, the medium can be harnessed in smart ways: shorter ads in between other ads, using other ads to endorse yours, referencing the previous ad in your ad even if you don’t know what played before.
Judging this year’s London International Awards, van Dijk is happy to say that radio has become a global category, especially since in some markets, radio is an opportunity for creative expression. The standard of the ads, said van Dijk, was great and the jury was very careful and very much possessive when it came to deciding the winners.
“We all take it personally. We have these ads and we have to think if they are worthy of our medium. We talked about everything that got in. Everything got discussed, even if we said that it was weak, or ‘Nah, that was already done’, or ‘Nah, that’s a scam.’” van Dijk shared with a laugh. Scam ads, he said, are very easy to produce and could therefore permeate the medium quickly.
They also paid careful attention on two details that spell triumph: the idea and the execution. “[The ad] starts with the idea – how new the idea is and how well executed. The execution will be the difference between the silver and the gold, and the gold and the grand prix,” said van Dijk as he lamented that some ads could have been so much better had they employed better voice actors or music.
But scam ads and poorly produced ads notwithstanding, van Dijk still believes in the purity of radio. “It’s not a stagnant medium,” he concluded.