18 best radio ads that prove the format has still got it

Radio advertising has to be the most underrated type of media in the industry. With a rise in music and podcast streaming platforms, less people are listening to traditional radio stations these days. So, the audiences may have dwindled a bit. But that doesn’t take away from how effective the best radio ads (or audio advertising in general) can be. 

Radio ads are more memorable than other advertising channels, boosting brand browsing by an average of 52%. Listeners are also less-likely to switch to another station when they hear radio advertising, in comparison to the amount of people that change the channel when TV advertisements come on, or skip a social ad as soon as their five seconds are up. Creative radio commercials are also cost-effective and easy for brands to produce. What’s not to love? 

In case you’re not yet convinced, have a listen to these top 18 radio ads of all time and get inspired for your next campaign. Happy listening!

Supercharge your radio ad reviews

Share content, get feedback, and manage approvals with Filestage.

1. Bud Light – Real Men of Genius (1998-2002)

Bud Light created this radio campaign back in the late 1990’s and ran it for a few years with well over 200 different ads. Here’s a short selection of the most successful ones. 

The idea here was inspired by traditional beer advertising of the time, paying mock tributes to seemingly ordinary men doing seemingly ordinary and mundane things. 

The advert featured a monotone voiceover played over a loud and proud track created especially for the campaign. It proved to be a massive hit, giving people listening across the country a laugh for years, picking up over 100 awards at the same time.

They were eventually made into TV ads for Bud Light’s UK audience, but the original radio advertisements are still widely recognized as the best.  


2. Geronimo Condoms – Shower (2007) 

Nothing can kill a steamy moment quite like the thought of your parents doing the deed. It’s the undisputed buzz kill. And this is exactly what Geronimo condoms used to dampen/violently drown the mood in its series of radio spots. 

Weird move for a condom company, right? Shouldn’t they be trying to turn people on, not making them want to puncture their eardrums with a toothpick? 

Well, the catch here was that Geronimo were cleverly trying to get listeners to imagine something terribly unsexy “Because if you don’t have a Geronimo condom, you’ll need to do something to put yourself off sex.” Can you imagine hearing this on your local radio station? Message received, loud and clear. 

There are three ads in this campaign. But I figured one would be enough. You can thank me later. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

3. KFC – Man Meals (2016) 

While gender stereotypes are being challenged more and more, masculinity is still often seen as something that needs to be protected. Something fragile, that can be put at risk with one ‘wrong’ move. Like ordering a cute cocktail, or a pumpkin-spiced latte, for example. But KFC went on-air to fight back against these outdated expectations put on men with their collection of creative radio ads, called Man Meals – featuring a meal made for every kind of man. 

These ads are great because they take on a serious topic, challenging the norms and conventions of what it means to be a man. But they do it in a wonderfully lighthearted and KFC-like way. Success!

4. Lysoform – The Last Germ (2020) 

How can a disinfectant brand drive home the fact that it kills 99.9% of germs? More importantly, how can it make its claim a unique and entertaining one? Lysoform took the unique approach of giving a voice to the remaining 0.01% of bacteria i.e. a sad and lonely germ with no friends, no family, and no hope. Very emotional indeed. 

The ad plays out with a post-apocalyptic feel to it, where the single germ is faced with the reality of a bacteria wipeout caused by Lysoform. This ad is great because the radio script brings the listener into the imaginary world. It feels almost intimate, with some clever dark humor dropped in here and there. But more than anything, it takes a product that is generally viewed as something functional and mundane, and makes it engaging and memorable for the target audience. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

5. DB Export Beer – The Paperless Newspaper (2019) 

A print ad in an audio ad broadcast. Yes, you read that right. 

DB Export wanted to promote its beer in a more environmentally-friendly way. So, it ran its newspaper ads on the radio. This campaign is super creative and a fantastic use of the medium. The ads feature a single voiceover that literally describes what would be happening in the newspaper ads, if the listener was looking at them. 

The ad ends by thanking the listener for reading their paperless newspaper ads “because you can’t have beer without a planet”. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

Supercharge your radio ad reviews

Share content, get feedback, and manage approvals with Filestage.

6. Geico – Disclaimer (2019) 

Geico’s best ads are always good fun. The brand is a master at taking the characteristics of traditional ads and turning them on their head to advertise their services. And this radio campaign is a great example. 

The selling point is delivered within the first five seconds of the ad slot, with the voiceover stating that she’s ‘as happy as a clam’. The remaining 25 seconds of the ad then acts as a traditional ad disclaimer, stating that Geico can’t guarantee that you’ll actually be as happy as a clam. It goes off on a tangent about the perceived happiness of a clam. It’s an absolutely ridiculous radio ad. And that’s exactly why it’s one of the best.  

Listen to the ad on the link.

7. Moms Demand Action – Poodle (2016) 

American supermarket chain, Kroger, permits people to carry loaded firearms in their store, while things like poodles and children’s scooters are a no-go because of safety reasons. This radio ad referenced a real call made to Kroger to highlight the bizarre policy, before asking listeners to sign a petition for “groceries, not guns”. 

The nice thing about this radio advertisement is that it uses another type of audio in the form of a phone call. But the great thing about it is the powerful statement that it makes, leaving a lasting impression on the listener and urging them to take action. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

8. Olay – 33 (2012) 

Olay specializes in anti-ageing skincare, something they wanted to shout about in this radio ad. The ad starts by listing out all of the things accomplished by a woman called Maria. The achievements are listed in order of Maria’s age, moving up through the years until Maria turns 33. It’s then that the interesting part kicks in…

I won’t spoil it for you. Just have a listen. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

9. Tobacco Free Florida – Hit Song (2019) 

People often don’t react well when they’re told what to do, or, in this case, what not to do. So Tobacco Free Florida needed a fresh way to show the consequences that smoking can have. But it needed it to be powerful enough to make people want to quit smoking without actually telling them to quit smoking. So, they created a ‘hit song’, sung through an electronic larynx. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

10. World Wildlife Fund – Nature Is Calling For Help (2021) 

Australian bushfires are becoming more frequent and disastrous, wiping out over 13 million hectares in 2021 alone. 

Words literally cannot describe just how damaging these fires are to our world. So, the World Wildlife Fund drew attention to the impact of the 2021 blazes by using real bird songs that were recorded while their forests, their homes, were being demolished. The birds that featured are known to mimic the sounds of their environment, fooling people’s ears at first, before revealing a stark and emotive message.

Listen to the ad on the link.

11. Burger King – Confusing Times (2021) 

2021 was a confusing time, to say the least. But Burger King saw this as the perfect opportunity to launch its new meat-free burgers. These ads made it into our roundup of the best copywriting ads. But they’re honestly too good to not be mentioned here too. They ran across print, TV, and radio stations. And they were a massive hit for the brand. 

Why? Because they picked up on how people were feeling at the time, and turned it into the most relatable and hilarious series of radio ads out there. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

12. Greenpeace – Repeaters (2021) 

Unless you’ve been living under a mahoosive rock, you’ll know that single-use plastic is bad news. You’ll also probably know that plastic takes an incredibly long time to break down. Around 350 years, in fact. This can be hard to comprehend when you’re craving a takeaway iced-coffee, or thinking about buying a bottle of water on a hot day. 

So Greenpeace tried to get across just how ‘annoying’ single-use plastic can be using one simple creative idea for its radio advert. Needless to say, we think it succeeded. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

13. Toyota – Meeting (2002) 

Kudos to anyone who can listen to this creative car ad without at least cracking a smile. Flipping a benefit on its head by showing the potential ‘risks’ that come with a product/service is a classic advertising tactic used by many brands. And for good reason.

This radio ad for the Toyota Avensis uses the approach brilliantly, focusing on its “electric traffic avoidance system” feature. After an oh-so relatable and hilarious workplace mishap, the ad finishes with the line, “Be careful. You might get there too early.” The voice talent makes it!

Listen to the ad on the link.

14. National AIDS Trust – HIV is Great (2007) 

The myths and misconceptions around HIV and AIDS resulted in decades of prejudice. And advertising has played a sizable role in raising awareness and spreading the right kind of information with some truly impactful work. 

This ad, in particular, is fighting back against prejudice in the workplace. The scene follows one male voiceover as he takes us on a tour of his workplace, trying to put a positive spin on what is essentially him being shunned by his employers and colleagues. 

The ad has an almost-humorous tone to begin with. But the message is a stark and serious one, finishing with the message that “It’s hard to be positive in the face of HIV prejudice. Discrimination is now illegal in the workplace.”

Listen to the ad on the link.

15. Old Spice – Look (2012)

As a longtime men’s hygiene market leader, Old Spice knows a thing or two about playing with our senses. And while the sense of smell is its usual forte, this radio ad shows that it can have fun with sound, too. 

Talking directly to women, as Old Spice often does, the strong male voiceover in this radio advert is designed to be played on a car radio. So, if you’re not driving right now (which hopefully is the case for most of you) get your imagination in gear and enjoy. 

16. Dove – Autotune (2013) 

Dove as a brand has taken a stand against unrealistic beauty standards for some time. Creating ads that work on raising self-esteem among women and girls. The brand hasn’t always gotten it 100% right, but that doesn’t take away from the good stuff it’s put out into the world. It has even made it into our best video ads roundup too.

Radio advertising might not seem like an obvious choice of platform for a brand like Dove i.e. one that largely works with what the world sees. But that’s when brands’ creativity is really pushed, making for a unique piece of work. Here, Dove took sound and music, and applied it to its brand purpose with a perfectly-fitting female voiceover, proving that you don’t need pictures to talk about beauty. 

Listen to the ad on the link.

17. Volkswagen – Mysteries of the Universe (2012)

Stephen Hawking in a car advertisement. His voice, one of the most iconic sounds there is. And it’s funny. Which I guess it would kind of need to be, right? Where else could this possibly go? 

Anyway, prepare to chuckle. 

18. Sprite – Sania (2006) 

This radio ad for Sprite is truly brilliant. What a creative way to use the genre to elevate the product. It was released when Sprite’s brand ambassador in India was Sania Mirza, the country’s leading international tennis player.

One simple sound brings the listener into the world of the ad, with a super satisfying reveal at the end. Incredible performance!

Final thoughts 

Radio advertising is rife with creativity. Because it needs to be. When sound is the only form of communication a business has with customers, it means advertisers need to work hard. The most creative radio ads are those that go beyond using a tweaked video script for radio, or simply listing things like brand benefits and exclusive discounts for customers.

They use the characteristics of audio advertising at the right frequency to reach listeners, get new customers, and bring their brand marketing and their sales to a new level.

And when done right, the rewards are there. 

Radio advertising feels more personal. More intimate. Speaking directly to each individual en masse. Sharing a story with audiences that are usually already engaged. 

We’ll definitely be staying tuned to hear how the AI technology and the implementation of AI voice is going to impact the world of radio adverts.