Maybe radio is finally beginning to figure out that it's not just about how commercial load, stopset placement, and tired "gadgets" like 10-in-a-row or 45 minutes of "nonstop whatever." Much of the complaints about commercials revolve around their quality.
We hear this with regularity in focus groups and advisory board meetings. On TV, there are commercials that captivate, amuse, entertain, and even make you laugh. There are spots that actually motivate you to rewind that TiVo, so you can watch them again. In fact, in a DVR world, advertisers are working their butts off to entice consumers to do just that.
Hey, I've done it myself. How about the Audrey Hepburn spot set to "Back in Black" for The GAP? I'm sure you can think of recent commercials that are "must see again." In fact, TV has long made the Super Bowl as much an event about ads as it has the teams that are actually playing the game.
In radio, that never happens. We never run commercials that are memorable - for the right reasons. Instead, radio spots are famous for being annoying, repetitive, or both.
There was a day when we would proudly talk about those Stan Freberg commercials as examples of radio producing great "theater of the mind" copy and production. But staff cutbacks and a penchant for taking the money and running trumped all those priorities. Instead, there's usually one poor soul cranking out local commercials for a cluster of stations, where the priority is to just "get 'em on" and not worry about whether they stimulate imaginations, much less store traffic.
There's word now that the nation's largest broadcaster is focusing on commercial quality. These are the same guys who brought us "Less Is More," a concept that seems to have as much staying power and meaning as "Mission Accomplished."
So, if indeed, creative radio commercials are going to come back in vogue, that's a good thing. And to actually "walk the walk," I have linked a couple of commercials that are currently running for the Michigan Tourism Industry. When I hear them on the radio, I turn up the volume, and enjoy them all the way through. Can anybody say the same about station-produced commercials they've heard lately? (Yes, that's Tim Allen voicing them.)
I'll be happy to post any or all in upcoming blogs.