Radio Hed: Unexpected Spokespersons

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

Who is the person delivering the message in your commercial? Often it’s the anonymous announcer, making it more difficult for you to write compelling copy. Here’s a suggestion: get attention by using someone the listener would not expect to be delivering the message for the advertiser.

To find an unexpected spokesperson with contrast, ask yourself: Who would hate this product, service or advertiser? Who would be opposed to this? Who would be the most unlikely customer? Who might complain about the advertiser?

Here’s what I mean: A high feminine voice describes what it’s like to drive a big truck through the mountains. A flat, monotone voice tells us how incredibly excited he is about the advertiser. Someone who hates waiting in lines and has developed 87 ways to use his time efficiently is upset because First Federal Bank’s lines move along too quickly to use these time savers. A Midwest Mom puts down an upscale restaurant because they don’t serve meatloaf, coleslaw or Jell-O fruit salad. A big city restaurant critic describes a down-home restaurant’s offerings. Someone who’s owned 36 Ford Mustangs falls in love with a Chevy. A clueless older guy tries to describe snowboarding, using all the contemporary snowboarding terms. An indignant do-gooder warns teens about a site where you can download the latest hip hop music. Someone who only eats burgers explains that there’s no reason to visit a restaurant with lots of choices. Other suggestions:

A young child for a retirement home. An elderly person for a rock club. A vegetarian for a steak house. A carnivore for a vegan restaurant. A talking toy with a bad attitude. A car navigation system that makes personal comments about the driver. A sports announcer gives a play-by-play account of a purchase at the store. A discount store price check at a competitor that mentions the lower prices at the advertiser’s store. A disclaimer, that takes up the entire commercial.

A story can be told by: The client’s relatives. Competitors. Over-the-top dedicated customers. Neighbors. Suppliers.

Sometimes the voice tells us who he/she is by their delivery, voice or attitude. The first words from a wimpy, overbearing, sleazy, hyped up, solicitous, enthusiastic, seductive, innocent, sleepy, or bubbly character lets the listener know who’s speaking.

Sometimes we’ll introduce the voice with a description: Here’s the world’s most experienced traveler. And now, the angriest man in Madison County. Mrs. Fenstergraf has a problem. Suzy Hallenbeck is much too happy. What’s bothering this guy?

Sometimes your spokespersons can introduce themselves: “Remember me, Miss Himmelfarber, your 5th grade teacher?” “Hello my son, it’s Father Flanagan from St. Bonaventure here.” “Lemme finish feedin’ these here ornery cowpokes so I can tell ya what real chuck wagon food’s all about.”

© 1997-2007 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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