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Wayne Ens

Creative Shortfalls


Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in Radio Ink about the powerful role of great creative in increasing sales, and of poor creative sabotaging sales.

And rightly so. At ENS Media, our Three Rs formula positions creative as the ultimate multiplier of advertising success: Reach X Repetition X Relevance = R.O.I. (Return on Investment)

But here is the thing. It is ludicrous to think creative types can write relevant creative from their view in the isolation of their office.

Have you ever witnessed the exercise where you place half a dozen people in a row and whisper a story to the first person. That person is then asked to quietly whisper the story  to the next person, then that person does the same until the story reaches the person at the end of the line.

When the person at the end of the line is asked to repeat the story, everyone thinks theyve come from another planet. The story recited by the person at the end of the line bears no resemblance to the original story.

Copywriters who try to write from information passed from clients to account executives and on to them are like that person at the end of the line.

Ive often heard writers who visited a client, after writing several commercials for that client, say things like, Wow. That business is nothing like what I thought it would be. Or, If I had seen this business I would never have written those spots.

Your creative people need to meet all of your key accounts and view their locations in order to write relevant copy.
Its even more ludicrous to think we can produce effective campaigns to differentiate our clients without knowing what our clients competitors are doing.

When I was in the agency business, the first step in designing logos was to collect samples of all of the advertisers competitors logos. We would post those logos as examples of what we could not design if we were to differentiate our client.

Radio copywriters are usually asked to create campaigns from information about the advertiser, in total isolation from the clients competitive environment. Writers who do not research the competitive landscape cannot effectively differentiate your clients position in that landscape.

I recently saw a spec spot that a rep was about to present to a business that sold tents and custom canvas awnings. The station developed what appeared to be a clever slogan for the prospect, Weve got you covered, because their tents and awnings provide coverage and protection.

I suggested, Before we present this, lets go online and see what their competitors are doing. As luck would have it, their biggest competitor was called Gotz Tent and Awning. Their slogan was (you guessed it) Weve Gotz You Covered.

Can you imagine how disastrous that meeting would have been had we presented that slogan to our prospect? Yet, all too often, campaigns are created without a clear understanding of the competition and the clients competitive advantage.

Im well aware that stations struggling to improve their bottom lines cannot afford the luxury of sending their creative people into the field to create better campaigns for all of their clients.

But in the case of your key accounts and your most high-potential prospects, more research and a better understanding of each advertisers competitive position is a necessity, not a luxury.

Its time for broadcasters to not think of better creative as a cost of sale but, rather, as an investment in sales.   

Wayne ENS is president of ENS Media Inc He can be contacted at

(7/15/2014 9:38:12 AM)
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(5/21/2014 11:57:44 AM)
I also make the argument that radio-types wouldn't know a good ad if they heard one. But, I'm always spoiling for a fight anyway.

And by the way, not having the time or expertise to develop effective and appealing ads is a lousy excuse. But, I guess it will have to do.

("Hi Ms. Jones. Wanna buy some spots!?")

- Ronald
(5/21/2014 11:35:34 AM)
The clients might not know a good ad, but your listeners do, and their response is measurable at the cash register.

- wayne
(5/21/2014 10:30:38 AM)
But when one is being continually pushed to generate revenue, one does not have the luxury of writing compelling copy. Remember, the bottom line rules and to heck with the client! We don't need no stinking copywriter! The clients wouldn't know a good ad if they heard one! Just throw a few 'perfects' and 'needs' into the copy and voila! Typical boilerplate that does no one any good!

- mike
(5/21/2014 8:11:17 AM)
Beyond helping to establish better relationships and doing some research on the client and her competitors, I would argue the exercise needs to be wrapped up at that very point.

The fact is: Very, very few advertisers have anything that would make them unique or particularly outstanding if the audiences knew about it.
If the advertiser is unique in any way, she will know what that is and inform the rep and the writer.

All this leads right back to the rep and the writer - it's up to them to produce compelling advertising WITHOUT compelling content.

- Ronald

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