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(PROGRAMMING) Radio Ads Make Me Crazy


On terrific websites and in very scientific research studies our business keeps trying to convince the local appliance, stereo stores and car dealers with sound logic that their use of our medium - shouting over-the-top promises and branding half-truths and even paying our personalities talent fees to hurt their personal credibility in endorsement spots and at remote broadcasts from their retail locations to do the same thing - isn't working.

For several years, Dr. David Eagleman has been writing wonderfully well-documentated books, publishing great research studies, magazine articles all in support of the idea that the brain's primary work is done at a subconscious level.

This is the guy who convinced his ethical review board that it was OK to drop his research subjects off of a tower in order to see if time really does slow down in frightening situations. (it didn't, though it seemed to during the fall to the subjects)

Read Eagleman.  Spend time with and  The facts are clear:  logic isn't as effective in influence as is emotion.

Radio's pal Dan O'Day has been devoting his life to this crusade for many years, as this video from 1999 demonstrates. (we're often as guilty as our advertisers are). Jeffrey Hedquist and the Radio Mercury Awards are just two of numerous others who have been fighting the good fight.
Meanwhile, people give us money every day to play ads which only irritate and insult listener intelligence (WORST RADIO COMMERCIAL EVER) in spite of all the very rational arguments our business has been making. Is it time to try a different approach?

Let's equip every radio salesperson with a ball-peen hammer in their brief case.  The moment the client pulls out a CD with their new commercial which sounds a lot like their old commercial, have the seller brandish the hammer over the ad and yell "don't make me use this!!"

It can't work any worse than our current approach does, can it? At least the buyer will feel something when your rep leaves her office.

Jaye Albright  of Albright & O'Malley is a 50+ year broadcaster with experience in all areas of programming, research, sales and management. Jaye can be reached via e-mail at

Read more blogs from Jaye HERE

(6/18/2012 1:13:00 PM)
Gots ta disagree with the "why" element. The vast majority of our advertisers don't even have one - a "why". The ones that claim a "why" are those that often just got pulled out of somebody's butt.

I mean, that's the whole point of Jaye's comment. Radio is an Indirect, Unconsciously=processed and Emotionally-charged medium.

In other words, Reason/logic has almost nothing to do with it. And is this a hard row to hoe? Hoo-boy!

- Ronald T. Robinson
(6/18/2012 8:36:18 AM)
Pt2: to make that "buying decision". EVERY ad should answer the question "why". Why should I care? Why should I deal with you and not my regular retailer. Why will this new tool/device make life easier? Why is service sometimes more imporatant than just price? If you can do it in 15 seconds, great! If it requires 60 seconds, don't skimp, use 60 seconds! Heck, some of the "internet only" ads are two minutes and for good reason. Sure, tell the story, but also tell me why!

- Jay Bedford
(6/18/2012 8:32:11 AM)
Commercials are such an important part of the mix along with the music, news, commentary and fun. How else will your residents (listeners) know that there is a sale at Canadian Tire or a new movie at the theatre. We sometimes forget that we provide the "information" and the listener has the right to respond or ignore. It's our job to make it compelling. David Ogilvy (Ogilvy On Advertising) claimed that we sometimes skimp on the information, when in actual fact the reader/listener requires more t

- Jay Bedford
(6/18/2012 7:41:36 AM)
Terrific distinctions, Jaye.
Of course, electronic (radio) commercials - and content delivered by presenters - work best when attached to emotional elements and do so, mostly, at the unconscious level. Much of the recall is gone, too - and almost immediately. But, nobody want to talk about that!

I've been dragging that horse around the track for 30 years - insisting all along that the nag still has a pulse. The key is in convincing our peers, colleagues, the sales people and our advertisers that this is so. (Should have this all wrapped up by a week from this Thursday, yes?) :)

- Ronald T. Robinson

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