How to Make a Radio Commercial that Appeals to Millennials (Gen Y)

30 Jul How to Make a Radio Commercial that Appeals to Millennials (Gen Y)


So, who listens to more radio: Boomers, Gen X, or Gen Y, also known as millennials?


According to Nielsen’s “Audio Today Report” of March 2015, millennials hold the majority when it comes to the number of radio listeners by generation. Here are the recent stats:

  • 91% of all millennials are reached weekly by radio
  • they spend 11 hours 26 minutes each week with radio
  • their #1 time to listen is afternoon drive (3 – 7)

Why do millennials spend so much time listening to radio? According to the latest research, they say radio ‘energizes’ them, or improves their mood. They may feel lonely and just want the comfort of a familiar voice to entertain them. They say they’d be more disappointed if their favourite station went away than if Facebook disappeared.


Boomers and some Gen X’ers use a different set of values for their buying decisions:

They value justice, integrity, family, practicality and duty. On the other hand, Millennials value happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery. Understanding this fundamental difference in values is key when creating commercials aimed at Generation Y, because your spots should speak to these values. Here’s an interesting chart that lays it out graphically.

How to Use Radio to Market to Millennials


So how can you put radio to work for your company when trying to reach Gen Y? Here are the key points…


  1. Connect with the station’s listeners – get to know the fan clubs, opt-in databases, facebook friends and twitter followers. The station can help you get involved.
  2. Make ‘friends’ – most listeners feel like the station personalities are their ‘friends’. They then connect on social media, and listen to them consistently on air. They feel like they know them and trust them.
  3. Go off air: create an event of your own outside of radio, then promote it on air: for example, a jewelry store could team up with the station for a Valentine’s Day promo – the DJ asks listeners for song suggestions, then posts them online (on Facebook, Twitter, the station’s website, and so on) where listeners can see the list, then their friends are encouraged to vote for their favourite songs and the list grows… the winners are then played throughout the evening of Valentine’s Day, and the sponsor wins bigtime!
  4. Create a catchy tagline or jingle: if it’s good, both listeners and announcers may parody it or at least repeat it. Try to use one small phrase (or as Roy Williams calls it a “brandable chunk”) that encapsulates the emotion of your offering and is easily remembered and shared, like the phrase from the Cash For Life Lottery, “FAN-tastic”, or like the McDonald’s jingle, “I’m Lovin’ It”.
  5. Be consistent: use the same branded sound in all your spots. Find the right music, have the right voice talent read the script, and use a consistent creative approach at all times
  6. Avoid producing a radio spot that sounds like a radio spot. Millennials hate to be ‘sold’. They don’t like loud, hard-sell, in-your-face, old-school radio ads… they prefer subtle.
  7. Gen Y loves to ‘discover’… so don’t give them any info they can find for themselves in :10 seconds or less. Millennials love to search Google for answers.
  8. Entertain rather than inform: rather than giving left brain information, tell stories that intrigue, surprise and engage the listener’s right Get them thinking, imagining, and searching. Pique their curiosity so they want to learn more through Google
  9. Be socially conscious: let them know your brand supports a good cause, you’re ecologically friendly or tied in with their community
  10. Use the right voice: avoid Voice-of-God radio announcers & hyper DJs; use real millennials to voice your spots.
  11. To that point, use testimonials: millennials trust their peers three times more than they trust advertisers… use audio clips from real people to convey your message
  12. Be authentic: avoid adspeak, marketing cliches and typical radio copy: talk to them in their own language
  13. Make it personal: they want your message to be customized and relevant to their lifestyle.
  14. Make it credible: your message should be believable and real… millennials hate typical advertising hype that seems irrelevant to their lives. Context and credibility matter more than the message.


Millennials want to be entertained by radio spots that speak their language and are relevant to their particular set of values. They listen to more radio than any other generation, so if you want them to like your brand, make sure your creative speaks their language.




Mike McCurlie
No Comments

Post A Comment