Fillers marketing service

The central GCS Fillers team works with government organisations to commission and develop cost-effective public service announcements (currently radio), and work with media owners to negotiate donated airtime, to be used across the whole suite of Fillers.

What are Fillers?

“Fillers” are low cost government radio assets. To best suit the needs of radio stations, the Fillers, typically need to be very generic, ideally “evergreen” content, which lends itself well to containing public welfare, public health and general safety messages. The goal is that they are picked up by radio stations, and are aired entirely at their discretion and goodwill.

Fillers are not a suitable channel for very changeable policy messages, nor are they suitable for strict date-specific campaign phases (for example, the very strict date-specific Covid campaign phases) – if this is your priority, paid advertising is the best way to go as ads operate in a far more controlled environment than Fillers.

The GCS Fillers Marketing team acts as a central “broker”, working primarily as consultants to develop Fillers with departments. We also build relationships with media owners to secure free airtime. Examples of current content includes Living Smokefree and awareness of sugar obesity, drink-drive or Highways Code road safety messages, and scams/pfishing awareness messages.

Here are some examples of current radio Fillers:

Reaching audiences

As well as commercial radio, community/”not for profit” radio stations are uniquely able to access Fillers: in 2021 around 300 community radio stations ran a Filler.

Fillers are usually implemented as a supporting role, part of wider marketing campaigns, with the goal of building public awareness at low cost and aiding behaviour change over the long term. Ideally, Fillers contain “evergreen” content, so once with the broadcasters and in the public domain, they typically remain available for a long time, often for more than 12 months, and in some cases several years (sometimes +5 years).

Fillers are generally not suitable for very short-term bursts, these would be best handled by advertising, nor can they promote the activities of a government organisation/minister.

While Fillers cannot be targeted at specific audiences in the same way as paid advertising, they can offer government departments a route to raise awareness of welfare, safety and public health messages.

Background – business needs of radio stations

Commercial radio broadcasters have daily schedules that shift and change, and many have a need for meaningful and engaging radio content to fill any empty programming space, sometimes at short notice.

Government Fillers were designed to fill that business need at the radio broadcasters, however, it is worth understanding that today they are competing with other sources of radio content at the broadcasters disposal, such as their own internal promotional trailers, and charity content.

Government Fillers therefore need to be very well scripted and contain appropriate themes to compete effectively in this space and generate enough interest to be used repeatedly, typically for months and even years.


Alan Smith, Senior Marketing Manager

“Fillers are a great way to get messages out to the public at low / no cost and the Fillers team are always on hand with advice and guidance when we are considering new Fillers to run. We are pleased with the airtime we have earned and shall continue to refresh our suite of Fillers as part of our focus on building awareness of our Health initiatives.”

Laurence Braithwaite, Campaigns Manager

“Radio fillers have enabled us to complement our National Highways short term campaigns with long term strategic safety messaging. Indeed, public awareness of our radio fillers has been surprisingly high compared to paid-for campaigns.

At one focus group in 2016, five out of seven people were aware of radio adverts encouraging drivers to respond safely to Red X signs on motorways. Out of these five, two people were actually referring to our Red X radio filler that had been broadcast since 2014. It demonstrates real value for money and a worthwhile complementary activity to high profile time-limited campaigns.”

More information

To find out more about government Fillers contact: