The Secret Formula to Great Radio Ads


What makes a great radio ad?  Is there a magic formula or do you just have to have a gift?  In today’s post, some of radio’s great creative minds share their thoughts and approach to writing great radio ads.  Have you tried their approach in the past?  Please tell us what you think about their suggestions.

“Radio is one of the few remaining mediums with captive audiences. They can’t click away from you; they can’t skip ahead. While they are driving in their car, you own their attention,” said Chris Smith, Brand Creative Group Head from The Richards Group, as he was emphasizing radio’s continued relevance as a great storytelling mechanism despite all other advertising choices.

But that said, you can turn on the radio in any market, large or small, and you’re likely to hear ineffective commercials filled with clichés, fast-talking announcers and poor execution that sound stilted and unnatural. Those commercials cause listeners to tune out and we know for certain that when a good commercial runs, listeners stay engaged and it drives client results. A Radio Show panel of award-winning creatives shared tips, techniques, and strategies to approach writing for radio differently to achieve results.

Perhaps the most insightful strategy we heard was to just simply stop writing commercials and start telling stories instead. You don’t sit at the computer and say, ‘I have to write a commercial.’ You say, ‘I have to tell a story and you start with ‘this is a story about…’ By the time you get about three paragraphs in, you’ll start to uncover the magic.

Beyond the “story” there is magic in the concept and the execution. Tony Mennuto, President of Wordsworth & Booth shared his strategy for Burger King breakfast sandwiches which used the unique approach of recording the commercials through the drive-thru at store locations using real, everyday people. When asked how they knew the campaign worked, Mennuto said, “The day the campaign launched on the air the sales of the sandwich doubled.”

Mitch Bennett, SVP, Executive Creative Director for Fitzgerald & Co. (and the 2016 $50,000 Best in Show Radio Mercury Awards winner for Quikrete), shared that “radio is a good way to test and judge a campaign idea because it requires great creativity to pull it off with just audio.”

Can creativity be taught? The panelists agreed that it can be and shared a book that helped them become successful called “Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads” by Luke Sullivan and Sam Bennett.


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