Radio is HARD, but it’s one of our favorite mediums to work with. If radio spots are done right, they can get a lot of attention. Done wrong, they add to the noise, or worse, become super-annoying. There’s a shining example of this conundrum running in the Atlanta market right now…
An interesting radio ad began running last month for Great Clips hair salons. The premise is that the stylist and customer are having a conversation about a haircut, but their voices are “auto-tuned” like changing gears — sounding like NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne’s no. 5 Chevrolet SS in the final lap at Atlanta Motor Speedway. About two weeks later, a second radio spot debuted, where an announcer (in a typical, “announcer-y” voice) stated something along these lines: “We apologize for the ads we ran a couple of weeks ago. We had some feedback like, ‘if I hear this ad again, I’ll never go back into a Great Clips.’ Well, we just want you to know we heard you!” The sentiments were evident across social media:
We often get asked, “What makes a magical radio spot?” by prospective and current clients. While the client’s needs may vary, here are a few universal truths in radio advertising to consider.
All day long people are talking “at us” and giving us information about THEM, so when a radio spot does that, it blends in with all the other noise. But if you create a scene in a radio spot, it stands out from the other stuff that’s on the radio. Radio is ”theater of the mind.” It’s about creating a scene for the listener. Listeners will develop a picture in their head when you’re giving them enough audio cues. You might have a doctor and a patient having a conversation, and you can get creative with that. How large is the office-do you hear an echo? Is the doctor rolling around-does the stool squeak? Are there animals in the room? Is the product serious or funny? Humor works, by the way, but you have to be careful not to go too far or it can be annoying—just like the Great Clips spot that’s discussed above.
This quote from Tom Shane may tell it better. At an advertising awards ceremony several years ago, Tom Shane (of the Shane Company jewelry fame) was asked why he didn’t do TV advertising. He said, “When I’m showing you a brilliant diamond, you’re limited by what you SEE on TV. But if I’m telling you that at Shane Co. we have the most brilliant diamonds, you will picture the most brilliant diamond you can think of in your mind.” In other words, the listener is responsible for coming up with a visual of your product that’s positive and relevant to them. And if you verbally relay that image correctly, they’ll attribute that image to your brand.
Find the balance between production/voice/copywriting. Sometimes, a spot can be too perfect or uniform, which takes away from the message. For example, there are current radio spots for an Atlanta furniture company that scream all their information at you and it’s pretty hard to understand what the announcer is saying. The tone decreases the impact of the message. There’s also a lingerie company spot that includes a conversation between two salespeople talking about the product for 30 seconds — but the sound quality sounds like it could have been produced in an elevator. The right voice talent, with good writing and production values, will create a radio spot that’s memorable in more ways than one. Then there’s the infamous jingle… well, that is another topic altogether, and perhaps one that we’ll leave for another day….