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(COPYWRITING) Radio Commercial Clich-Busters


Hear that sound? Its happening every minute throughout the country. Its the "off switch" on your listeners attention. All it took were the first words of a clich, andthere it is again.

We may wince when we hear those over-used phrases that are devoid of meaning, but not our listeners. They simply ignore em. And they ignore the message.

What can we do to regain their attention? Stop using clichs in our commercials. Easier said than done. Were so used to using them that we dont think about it, or we assume it wont matter. Wrong.

Just listening to the radio over the past few months, I collected more than 200 of these gems. I know there are lots more. What we can do with them?

Some clichs do nothing but take up valuable time and should just be eliminated:

Going on now
And whats more
You heard right
Much, much more
You owe it to yourself
Not to mention

Many clichs are words from a client, or an agency, or from us trying to state a benefit in a concise way. The problem is, what may have been fresh 50 years, or even two years, ago is now stale and empty. When you discover a clich lurking in your script, ask yourself, Is this a relevant benefit? If it is, then rephrase it. Express it in conversational language.

Example: Conveniently located
If the advertiser is located in an area that may be convenient for many potential customers, describe where its located with a landmark, and maybe suggest to listeners how convenient it is. Second Street Coffee House is right across from the Post Office, so when you pick up the mail on your way to work, stop in for a fresh Danish and a gourmet blend coffee.

Example: Savings throughout the store
In every department at Vigils youll find something on sale. So, if you come in to pick up something at our pharmacy, you might want to wander over to our garden department to see what weve marked down.

Example: Hurry in for best selection
These imported rugs are all unique, but we only have 37 of them in stock. Soon there will be 30, then 20, then 10, so the sooner you come in, the more you can choose from.

Scan your scripts for clichs. When you find one, ask yourself, What am I trying to say here? How would I tell a friend whats in it for her?

Then, as one of my writing mentors would say, Push it further. Try to phrase it in a way thats conversational, unexpected, shocking, provocative, unusual, or intimate. Tickle the imagination and talk to your listeners.

To get your very own free copy of Hedquists List of 217 Cliches, email me and Ill send them. Guaranteed to reduce commercial effectiveness.

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