Friday, 2 October 2009

And the winners are...

There’s a great ad kicking around at the moment. Having a dig at John Lewis, it reads: “Step into middle England’s best loved department store, stroll through haberdashery to the audio visual department where an awfully well bought up young man will bend over backwards to find the right TV for you.

...Then go to and buy it”

It made me chuckle and instantly gave me one of those “I wish I had written that” moments.

The above is a press ad. Yet thinking about it, I can’t understand why there isn’t more comparative advertising on the radio. Many business love to hark about how good their prices and service are. But if we are new to a brand, it is hard to gauge just how good the prices and service is. Comparisons are a great way of doing it and providing you’re 100% accurate on the facts, you should go for it.

Nowadays, we are seeing major supermarkets comparing each other’s prices. These companies yield great power and in many respects this gives smaller businesses a licence to play the game too. However, many local advertisers feel reluctant to go up against their national rivals, but I think providing no one exaggerates the truth or berates the competition, the audience will love the banter. Experience has also told me that many national companies won’t change their pricing and marketing strategy just because one independent local business is saying they are better. There will be exceptions of course, but generally local businesses will always have the upper hand.

Changing the subject, you may have noticed the results of the Radio Advertising Awards. I was thrilled to see that the event wasn’t 100% dominated by ad agencies. The category ‘Best Use of Radio to Drive Awareness’ was won by Global Ideas Birmingham for ‘Death Calling’. Congratulations to all involved.

The Grand Prix winner was for ‘Search’ by the Department of Transport. A great commercial with a very simple message. Well worth a listen at the RAB website.

My favourite was for ZSL London Zoo. Winning the ‘Best Sound Design’ catagory, there isn’t a wasted moment in this commercial. A Clear, fun, clever and compelling message. Great stuff.

The Radio Advertising Awards prove that there is still some great work out there. Though I know many Commercial Producers working on more ‘local’ campaigns will feel frustrated that many of their good radio scripts have been let down by their client’s insistence to include phone numbers and other meaningless twaddle. Hence there is a reluctance to enter the work. On the odd occasion, I have heard of producers creating two versions of the commercial. One a ‘client-friendly’ version complete with the twaddle and another which is the ad as it should be: A finely-crafted piece of radio advertising. If radio stations could persuade more of their clients to run the latter for a short while, then I reckon we would see more radio stations winning in the Radio Advertising Awards.

My only niggle about the Radio Advertising Awards ? On the impressive list of judges, there wasn’t anyone who works full-time in a commercial radio station or radio group. The inclusion of such a person would add another interesting perspective on the proceedings.

Regular readers to the Ad Vantage column will know my other awards niggle is the organisers of the Sony Awards not including a Station-Produced Radio Commercial category in their awards list. The UK broadcasts millions of hours worth of radio ads (more than promos AND there’s a category for them !), yet radio adverts have been completely ignored.

2010 Sony Awards perhaps ?

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