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Straight from Cannes: What’s Trending in Audio Advertising Creative?

When it comes to audio advertising and creativity, agencies and brands are deploying cutting edge technology and techniques and leveraging old tools to resonate with listeners. As Joel Beckerman, Founder and Composer at Man Made Music says, “what’s mind blowing is to realize that every time there’s an innovation in a new technology now, sound becomes even more important.”

Recently, more than 10,000 executives in the advertising community descended on the South of France for the ad industry’s most prestigious awards during the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. While Entercom was not there, many of our partners and agencies shared their experience and thoughts.

Agencies and brands submitted more than 32,000 entries across 26 categories including thousands for Audio and Radio to be considered among the best of the best. Only a handful, however, walked away toting a coveted Cannes Lions statuette.

“We need to think of audio as much more than a 30-second commercial that’s stuck in a box,” said Jo McCrostie, the president of the Radio and Audio jury. “It’ so much broader than that. It’s so much wider than that. People need to reassess audio as a medium and think about its unique standing and the impact it has the on the audiences that hears it. You can’t not hear it. Its got incredible impact and it’s underutilized.”

McCrostie led a team of 10 executives to review the work and determine the winners through the lens that with audio “the mind is the medium.”

The ideas that rose to the top incorporated unique storytelling to deliver brand attributes, relevant social messages, humor, technology and leveraged both terrestrial radio and digital to reach listeners.

Audio Ad Trends:

Spot-On Storytelling. Verizon leveraged its network reliability to tug the heartstrings of listeners with a series of emotional commercials, recordings of actual calls between a victim and their helper. Verizon helped victims track down first responders so they could call and thank them for their help. The message: First responders answer the call. Our job is to make sure they can get it. Agency: McCann, NY

Humor, Hamburgers and Harmony. Wendy’s riffed off the idea of creating a mix tape from a Twitter war with arch rival McDonald’s to create a series of rap songs that helped promote its brand while throwing shade on competitors. The five-song mixtape dubbed We Beefin, includes Rest in Grease, Clownin’ and Twitter Fingers. The tape dropped the mic on rivals and it was lit and legit and the perfect fit for audio. Agency: VML, St. Louis

Custom Coke. Coca-Cola took an award for its commitment to its long-running “Share a Coke” campaign that bears 1,000 names on bottles and cans. The company introduced jingles for every name featured on the bottles and cans last year. Memorable jingles still resonate with listeners and illustrate the ability to leverage localized preferences even in a national campaign. Agency: FitzCo/McCann, Atlanta.

Technical Marvels. As part of its “Find Your Voice” campaign, British newspaper, The Times launched JFK Unsilenced. The effort required the review of 831 JFK speeches and interviews to create a database of 116,777 phonetic sounds by the former President in order to create the Dallas Trade mart speech that he was supposed to have made on the day he was assassinated, in his own voice. More than 1 billion heard the Trade Mart Speech. Agency: Rothco.

Another ad paid tribute to the Brazilian soccer team Chapecoense, which had been killed in a plane crash in 2016 on its way to the play in the South American Cup finals. Blu radio, which would have aired the game, edited together 800 audio fragments capturing the best plays of Chapecoense and its rival, Nacional to create a 90-minute match. One year later, the game aired nationwide to an audience of 2.7 million listeners on the exact date and time that it had originally been scheduled.

So here’s the 5 Keys to Radio Creative:

  1. Leverage sound, voice, emotion and inflection
  2. Tell a story
  3. Make it original and creative; your TV commercial and other media doesn’t necessarily translate
  4. Make it “environment specific”
  5. Paint a mental and memorable picture for the listener

“Audio is helping take radio to a whole new level,” said jury member, Kerry Keenan. “What’s coming forward is changing so much.”

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