Why Is P&G Running Back To Radio?


Cumulus/Westwood One Chief Insights Officer Pierre Bouvard takes a stab at answering that question in his latest blog. Bouvard harkens back to 2017 when P&G Executive John Fix made a somewhat surprising comment. That’s really when it all began.

Bouvard recalls how word started spreading about digital fraud and eroding TV audiences. And he says that’s caused P&G’s radio rediscovery. At a 2017 radio conference, P&G executive John Fix commented: “[P&G and] other CPG giants have grown frustrated by narrow digital-ad targeting. P&G wants to speak to everyone, not a narrow target. P&G wants to reach as much of America as it can, once a week … While TV has been its media cornerstone, it’s a costly investment to use television to reach 72% of the U.S. The brands are looking to get the reach they want and they can’t get it with TV. Knowing that, radio seemed to be an option. You saw 93% of households are listening to radio. That’s the scale I need for my brands to reach the people that buy them.”

Bouvard says marketers and media agencies are clueless about how regular people use media and P&G understands something the majority of marketers and advertisers have completely missed. “According to Nielsen, America’s number one mass reach media is AM/FM radio. It is bigger than TV and bigger than social and online video. AM/FM radio’s massive reach is lost on most advertisers. For four years, Advertiser Perceptions studies of over 1,200 media agencies and marketers have found the perceived reach of U.S. radio is stunningly lower than Nielsen reality.”

Why are media agencies and their clients so out of sync with actual consumer media habits? In the November 2018 Radio Ink cover story Havas Media Group North America CEO Colin Kinsella provided the answer to that question. “The big issue we see in radio is that planners who are probably in New York commute to work. When you commute in NYC, you do so via trains or subways, so for them terrestrial radio does not exist. When it comes to putting money in a plan to drive action, their last instinct is radio. It’s one of the few mediums they don’t have a connection to. They have more of a connection to music like Spotify and ad-supported music. The real bulk of radio, they don’t have exposure to it.”

And that brings us back to the same tune we’ve been hearing from radio executives for years, “We need to tell a better story.” Well, the good news is that P&G is listening.


  1. It’s always a whiff of fresher air when a biggie gets back on board.
    However, I remind astute readers that “Radio has to tell the story” has two meanings.
    The first is the validity of radio as an advertising medium.
    The second – the one that is ignored or to which only lip service is paid is: Radio must create/produce much better stories – for its advertisers.
    Slick, well-written and sophisticated agencie ads makes for a marvelous combination.
    Locally-produced crud is only a bane on the industry, and a cruel disservice to local advertisers.


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