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Case study: Leveraging social radio

Radio is the original social medium, and with the explosion of digital social media it’s been just as successful at gathering communities of fans around it in the online world as it has offline. Real opportunity exists for brands looking to leverage these audiences and connect in meaningful ways.

Community has always been a strong point of radio. Listeners call in to make song requests, wish friends and family well on their birthdays, share personal stories, and connect to the issues of the day. In a way, radio is the original social media. So it’s not surprising that with the explosion of digital social media, radio is excelling and gathering communities of fans around it in the online world just as it has offline. The Rock, The Edge, and ZM each have over 100,000 Facebook fans, making the radio Facebook community the largest of any media in New Zealand. 

Advertisers as diverse as Prime, the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA), and Telecom have all recently partnered successfully with The Radio Bureau (TRB) to deliver dynamic and successful campaigns within radio’s social media environment.


Everyone knows radio hosts love to talk. It’s kind of their job. Prime decided to take advantage of this fact when it wanted to promote the new season of Secret Diary of a Call Girl. More FM programme director Ande Macpherson casually drew Drive DJ Clarke Gayford’s attention to a window in plain view across the road from the studio, where a woman appearing to be a call girl conducted her ‘business’. Of course, Macpherson was in on it, but Gayford wasn’t — and he took the bait hook, line and sinker.

What followed were three intense days of public speculation fuelled by Gayford’s on-air chatter and on-line documentation of the unfolding events. He posted pictures and videos to the More FM website and Facebook page, which prompted other More FM DJs to pick up the thread. The story went viral soon after, with other stations picking up the story here and abroad.

By the time of the big reveal, the day of the season premiere, the promotion had generated thousands of social media posts and tweets, capturing the eyes and ears of the nation — and making news around the world. This all ensured the premiere was one of the most talked-about of the year.

The campaign’s creativity, insight and execution garnered a number of international awards, including two Gold Lions at Cannes, and a Yellow Pencil at the D&AD awards.secret diary of a call girl prime tv stunt window


For its anti-drink and drug driving campaigns, NZTA turned to radio to reach people and make a personal connection to the message.

The Radio Legend campaign was developed to support listeners in encouraging their own family and friends to stop driving drunk. A campaign driven by DJ’s was created, directing listeners to call in to a toll-free number and leave a personalised anti-drink driving message for a loved one.

Over 270 messages were recorded, and 30 of these played back on-air at a time and place of the caller’s choosing. In effect, it was a user-generated radio campaign. And importantly, deaths and serious injuries from alcohol-related crashes dived to their lowest level since 2007. The campaign was awarded a Bronze Lion at Cannes earlier this year.

A different approach was needed for drug driving, and the campaign was designed to raise awareness and stimulate conversations. Stations worked closely together to create a social campaign that would run across multiple radio brands. DJs discussed the topics on-air and drove listeners to their station’s respective Facebook page, where a drug driving app was hosted. Listeners could use the app in-page to have their say on the issues.

The campaign received a huge response, engaging over 6,700 people who clicked, liked or commented. It also generated 7,111 votes and 334 separate conversations on a tough subject.


When Telecom was installing free wireless hotspots at beach locations across the country last summer, it wanted to make sure its Wi-Fi capabilities were highlighted and the experience was seen and shared online. So it partnered with ZM to create Telecom’s Summer Hot Spots Outdoor Wireless Internet Lounge.

The lounge traveled to 30 different locations throughout New Zealand, and through it, the ZM team helped sign up 50,000 people across 75,000 devices.

But Telecom was keen on taking the campaign beyond the street, and wanted to make sure it was shared in the social space. To make this happen, ZM used live crosses on-air as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to create an awareness of the lounge and alert audiences to its location each day.

Key to this was an online photo gallery, populated with photos of users having a great time. These were hosted on ZM’s website in Telecom-branded photo frames and with their own hashtag on Instagram. By the end of the summer, thanks to ZM, Telecom’s consumer base had over 40 percent awareness for the Wi-Fi summer campaign.

For more information about adding radio in to your marketing mix, please contact The Radio Bureau on (09) 302 1122 or [email protected]

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