Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Why Radio Stations Can Learn From the Horsemeat Scandal

There are a lot of folks blaming each other for the mess recently created by the horsemeat scandal.

In my view, a large percentage of the accusative finger should be pointed at some of the supermarkets. In their never-ending quest to buy their stock at the cheapest possible prices, it's not surprising some suppliers have resorted to below-the-belt tactics to make ends meet (Or should it be 'make ends meat' ?) by replacing beef with the cheaper horsemeat.

I am in no way condoning the suppliers behaviour, but when a supermarket is asking you to reduce your prices, it's obvious that the product quality won't be as good. Corners will always be cut.

A few weeks ago, I read a blog from a radio commercial production company who decided to part company with a group of radio stations because they couldn't agree on a fair price to produce radio ads. In a nutshell, the radio stations wanted their commercials produced for '£X' and the production company said their price will be a higher '£Y'. The production company concerned felt that they simply couldn't make radio commercials for the '£X' price and so they pulled out of the deal. Those who read the blog (Including myself) were in full support of the production company's withdrawal. Sure, we all want our prices to be accessible, but when if a product is going to be seriously compromised, for the sake of your own company's reputation, it is best to walk away.

In the current economic climate, there's a huge amount of undercutting going on. I have seen online production companies offering their services for just £45 !

So what will you get for your £45 ? Well, you'll get a radio ad, but what has gone into it - or most worryingly,  not ?

I wouldn't be surprised if the 'writer' is an ex-DJ, a swing jock or someone 'in-between jobs'. Note: Just because the person creating your radio ad 'works in radio'; that does not mean he or she is an expert in creating radio advertising.

The same warning goes to people who own a recording studio. There is no connection between 'owning a recording studio' and being a fully-fledged Radio Commercial Producer. Choose your studio wisely.

And so to the production. What kind of music will they be using for £45 ? It's unlikely to be MCPS production music. The cost for just one 30 second cut is about £80, so some folks will say that's too expensive. The radio station commissioning the production may have an MCPS blanket licence - which helps, but many stations don't have one. About a year ago, a group of radio stations invited Airforce to tender for a production contract. We declined because they wouldn't invest in the Blanket Licence. A lot of MCPS production music is of extremely high quality and can actually make some low-cost productions sound quite decent. But if you resort to the Royalty Free stuff, the musical integrity is often quite limited, American-sounding, iffy or all three.

If it's a jingle you're after, then lots of companies will punch a catchy tune out for less than £250. But the people performing on your track are unlikely to be 'proper' session musicians or singers. When you add things up; A couple of great session singers, a half decent studio, a composer with a successful track record in producing advertising music, some proper session musicians etc etc; £250 will barely scratch the surface. Again, it wouldn't surprise me if the 'singer' is the producer's girlfriend and/or sister who sometimes performs down the pub on Karaoke night. Or it will be the producer himself.

I could dismantle the prices even more, but the fact is: Cheap is not good.

Cheap gives you poorly-written scripts. Cheap gives you poor production values. Cheap gives you badly-cast voices. Cheap gives you naff music. Cheap gives you jingles that annoy the hell out of the listener. Cheap employs part-time singers and musicians.  Cheap will never present your brand in the right light. Cheap lowers the quality of radio station output. Cheap makes everything sound the same. Cheap doesn't give radio advertisers the choice, service and attention they deserve. Cheap is putting a square peg into a round hole. Cheap isn't proper radio advertising.

This is why some radio stations should learn from  the Horsemeat Scandal. Instead of looking for a producer who will do things for less, use someone who will bring to the table tasty things that contain great ingredients and will have advertisers wanting second, third and fourth helpings.

We have radio station clients who understand this. But alas, they are not the norm.


You don't have to get your radio station to make your radio commercials, radio adverts and jingles. For free initial script ideas, get in touch here.