Thursday, 18 March 2010

Radio Adverts that will do you wrong.

It feels like the last two weeks has taken me squillions of miles around the country. And whilst driving from one destination to another, it gave me the chance to listen to a number of commercial radio stations along the way. In particular, their radio commercials !

There is no doubt that radio adverts are beginning to sound interesting again. Throughout last year, there was a definite leaning towards simple-sounding commercials. But now it’s good to hear some more interesting stuff returning to the airwaves.

Having said that, I am still hearing things that really don’t help the advertiser’s cause. One thing in particular: Asking questions in radio ads has loomed it’s ugly head again – big time.

“What’s stopping you from coming to our sale ?”

“Why not treat yourself ?”

“Thinking of buying XXXXXXX ?”

I know I’ve covered this area a number of times, but the sheer amount of ads I have heard over the last couple of weeks has prompted me - once again to bring this subject up again.

The reality is, phrases like "Why go anywhere else ?" and "What's stopping you ?" etc, simply bring to mind all the things that remind folks why they shouldn't be buying a particular product or service. The result ? Businesses spending a ton of money inadvertently inviting listeners to think of a reason for why they shouldn't buy their products or services.

Of course, it’s sometimes difficult to avoid asking questions in radio ads, but it’s worth pointing out to advertisers that questions should be put in commercials only if
the answer the audience gives is the right answer.

The other area that pricked my ears up were sponsorship messages. In many many cases, they sounded incredibly drab and predictable. I am sure it’s not the case everywhere, but I believe many sponsor credits are not doing the paying client many favours. I have said it before, TV really leads the way on sponsor credits. They look good, they have an idea behind them, they keep in line with the TV station’s branding, they are sympathetic to the sponsor’s branding and most of all; appear to have a justifiable presence.

I am aware of what you can or can’t do on radio sponsorship credits, but I really do think it’s time they went beyond the rather predictable “Brought to you in association with Xxxxx. Great service, whatever the weather” kind of credit.

Worse still, some of the sponsor credits I heard actually gave no clue to what the sponsor’s line of business was ! I know this isn’t the norm, but come on, everyone has a duty to ensure that advertisers get something in return for their investment.

Finally, in a conversation with an agency chum I met up with on my travels, I was asked the question: “Whatever happened to the Sonic Logo ?” Interesting point ! A few years ago, a number of radio experts predicted that short sharp pieces of music and/or sounds would be the way forward for radio advertisers to brand themselves on air and so create recognisability. Of course there are a few radio advertisers who do use Sonic Logos well, but in the great scale of things (and taking out of the equation those hoppity-skip kind of jingles you hear) there aren’t as many around as everyone thought there would be. Perhaps in the real world, it shows us there is still a big gap between a Commercial Producer’s and advertiser’s expectations of what good radio advertising should be.

John Calvert.

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