Thursday, 21 January 2010

Are your Radio Adverts 'of the moment' ?

I can’t believe how over the top the media coverage has been with the snow. The way the subject has been treated, it gives the impression that snow is a new phenomenon to the human race and that none of us know how to handle it. I have a number of international clients and they tell me that they are finding the whole British/Snow thing very amusing. “Get over it !” one client in the Netherlands told me. I agree with her.

So, with snow being the talk of the UK, have we encouraged our advertisers to use it to their advantage ? We are all aware that retail sales have slipped because of the weather, so can we use it to create radio advertising that encourages people to believe that venturing out in the white stuff is good for them ?

I recall hearing an age-old radio advert produced by Chris Lytle for an electrical shop. The store had been flooded and the ad went on to explain that if you didn’t mind visiting an electrical shop with no electricity, the customer would be rewarded with incredible reductions. Apparently the response was phenomenal.

The British love topicality. The TV show ‘Have I Got News For You’, ‘Question Time’, ‘Harry Hill’s TV Burp’ and many others prove that people, places and events ‘of the moment’ go down very well.

Radio is blessed with the fact that the production process is relatively straight forward. So it makes sense to exploit these qualities and produce radio commercials that really do reflect the here and now. All we need are advertisers who are prepared to go with the flow and put 100% faith into the fact that world events have the potential to shift big amounts of stock.

They the unexpected also happens, so be prepared for it. I recall working on a campaign in which every commercial was produced incredibly close to the broadcast time. But just in case an event happened that significantly changed the mood of the TSA , we had a contingency commercial ready to use: An ad that felt of-the-moment but wasn’t particularly specific. I was glad we had one. Two thirds of the way through the campaign, the Princess of Wales left our mortal coil, plunging pretty much the entire nation into an abyss of sorrow.

Of course, we could be even more up to date by broadcasting live radio ads ! The idea of creating a message based upon events that happened less than an hour ago to me seems incredibly appealing. Live ads were the norm for many many years on American radio. I wrote a handful of live ads in the 80’s too, so it’s sad to think that the way radio works today (transmitter splitting, national local and regional playouts etc) actually makes the implementation of live ads pretty much an impossibility. (Or is it just because the radio stations think the whole idea is just too scary ?) A shame, because the public loves a live event ! Years ago, all soap operas were broadcast live by default. But in recent times, the trend has been returning. Coronation Street and The Bill have done live shows. In February, East Enders will be joining the throng by doing a show in which Archie’s murderer will be revealed – live. If a hugely complex TV show can be broadcast live, surely a 30 second radio ad would be an absolute doddle to pull off ?

Best of all, make the public know it’s live. Create a buzz round it though the PR machine and let them understand something could go wrong.
Just like we wonder whether a magician will escape from a air-tight box before it explodes or whether Barbara Windsor will remember all her lines, the public will stop doing what they are doing to see the event through.

...And for advertisers, that’s priceless !

Want to create a 'Radio Event' with your radio adverts ? Visit the Airforce website here.

John Calvert

No comments:

Post a Comment