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BLOG: Effective Advertising - Effective Radio

May 22, 2014

It used to be, radio taught the advertising industry about theatre of the mind and painting mental pictures with words.

I recently ran across an article on Nielson.com by Randall Beard, Global Head, Advertiser Solutions called "Effective Advertising - More Than a Creative Black Box," which serves as a wake up call to radio's increasing lack of "personality."

Much to my surprise and delight, this article deals with specifics, states what should have been the obvious and solves not only the problem of boring radio/TV advertising, but, unintentionally, boring radio at the same time.

Here's a clip from that article.

"In time, I began to wonder if there were some underlying principles or architecture - a science, so to speak - that form the foundations of great advertising - of which I was unaware. Are there?

Well, the answer is yes - to some degree. I was never able to discern them in my brief and unsuccessful copywriting stint. But, years later, Nielsen has mined its TV Brand Effect database of 250,000-plus TV ads to understand what drives real world advertising memorability and brand impact.

As it turns out, there are several common building blocks among the best-performing ads, regardless of category or brand. What are they?

  1. Storytelling: Great advertising almost always tells us a good story. Great ads have cogent, understandable and entertaining storylines that engage the audience and pull them into the world of the advertised brand. If your brand isn't telling a good story, it should be.
  2. Simplicity: Simpler is generally better, and this applies to advertising too. A simple story well told is easily remembered. Too many cuts and complex stories create confusion and obscure your storyline. It's that simple.
  3. Relatable situations: Ads that are "for people like me" are more effective. They speak directly to the consumer and what they care about. Including situations and characters that viewers can relate to make it easier for viewers to engage and care about your advertising.
  4. Humor: Audience-appropriate humor is another hallmark of great ads. What an 18-year-old guy attending high school and a 65-year-old retired schoolteacher find funny is probably not the same. Age appropriate humor can uplift your audience's spirits and contribute mightily to memorability.
  5. Branding: The best ads have strong branding by definition. An ad can't be a strong ad if no one remembers that it's for your brand. Well-branded ads communicate their brand through both audio and video, and they use brand cues early and often. Often, they use mnemonic devices - iconic characters or music that immediately identify the brand.

Do these five principles describe every great ad? No. Are they a failsafe recipe for creating a memorable ad? No. Unbridled, intuitive and organic creativity will always be the foundation of the best advertising concepts. But these five elements are consistently present among the best ads in the Nielsen database. And I would argue that they're almost certainly present in your best ads, too.

So, whether you're lying in a dentist chair in some creative's office trying to think up the next great advertising campaign, or just a brand manager worried about driving brand equity and sales, remember these five principles of advertising success, and that there is a science to great creative.

If you do, you're likely to end up with great advertising."

In a nutshell, to sell advertising and make lots of money, radio ads have to have personality. Personality, in this case, is comprised of storytelling, relatable situations, a little humor, a simple message and a strongly defined brand.

These five basic principles easily apply to radio programming as well. As a matter of fact, re-read that section of the article I've reprinted above, replace the words "advertising" "ad" and "ads" with the words "radio station." It's amazing how much sense it makes.

To entertain and win over lots of listeners, radio stations have to have personality, too.

It works for the business side of the business and it will work for the creative side as well.

   © 2018 Russ Egan