Client voiced radio ads can sure be a challenge. In a lot of cases you're giving a person who probably has little or no expertise interpreting broadcast copy a script to read. The result? They SOUND like someone with little or no expertise interpreting broadcast copy. In many cases you can avoid that.
In order to illustrate this point, I’ve selected several commercials from a successful campaign I perpetrated for a local mattress and furniture store. The client, by his OWN admission, had NO talent to read a radio script (and he was right). But I figured this guy deserved more than the predictable client read. So I set up two voice situations with him. Doing this enables you to write short lines for the client, and like Chaplin used to direct, give it to them the way it should be read and have them repeat after you. The result, at least in this campaign, was a series where the client sounded like he had a likeable personality -- which he DID. My job was to get it across in a radio ad. And the added bonus was that customers commented frequently about the ads when they shopped the store. That's the kind of feedback you want, I think. And it starts with the little extra effort of writing more than just a "client voiced script". Here’s the first ad for your review.
I know it's probably been done before, but I had to try it -- "it" being the announcer getting a client's name wrong in the very ad they're voicing. This kind of playful deprecation, I think, not only helps listeners remember the client's name, but also sheds a little light on said client as someone with a sense of humor. In the next commercial, since the sale info talked about things like family and holidays, I had to throw in a curve. So in this installment, I added a female voice to the mix. Keeps the pressure off the client with short, punchy lines, yet continuing to play on the lack of trust the client has in the announcer's ability (or willingness) to get it right. Oh, did I mention this client only had the budget for 30’s? Even more fun... Lend your ear to this example.
Sustaining long legs with a radio campaign can be a challenge. But I think it's what keeps an audience listening to hear the next episode of this "client dealing with an oblivious announcer" saga. So, what's say we combine TWO potential headaches for the client in this ad. Number one, an announcer who decides to wax poetic, and number two, the same announcer who STILL can't get the client's name right...
I know Memorial Day’s passed, but special sales can still be a little irreverent when you've got a client voiced ad campaign featuring the same basic elements -- the client and the same dopey pain-in-the-behind announcer. Just sprinkle in lots of people's favorite Memorial Day activity… a cook out. Give a listen.
It's been my experience when a client voices their own ad, breaking it into short bursts interspersed with an announcer (in this campaign, one who's kind of a chowder head) tends to be more friendly to the ears of a casual listener. But occasionally it's good to let said client voice the whole thing. The caveat is making sure there's a fly in the ointment to keep the unpredictable campaign scenario going. In this sample I had just one voice part, which was minor. But, when you give the client palatable direction, they can pull it off and hopefully leave some members of the audience with a "sheepish" grin.
Here's another episode in the campaign with another twist you can use. It's interesting to turn a client into the voice of reason amidst the ramblings of an oblivious announcer. In other words, seems safe to insist same series spots sound similarly silly in sequence (whew!) -- which is kinda the goal. And I invite you to listen to another example. Nothing like bursting one's bubble to keep things from going totally off the rails...
There are a few benefits about a client voice-based radio campaign where you coach the client's voice parts to a point they can EXACTLY repeat the lines you feed them. Of course, if you've been consistent with the irreverent tenor of the campaign, the client will start trusting you more as they hear how the big picture unfolds and begin to loosen up. And THIS makes it even EASIER to direct them moving forward. So then you can occasionally put them in far-fetched situations previously reserved for the more talented voice actors on your staff. Putting the client in these kinds of scenarios from time to time not only keeps the legs of your campaign growing even longer, but it presents the client in even more of a fun light that listeners (and potential customers) might eventually find easier to gravitate towards... as illustrated in this example.
I've got more commercials from this campaign, and by now you could very well be tired of 'em. But the point, as was hammered home by an established marketing pro I worked with a while back, is pretty plain. "Good campaigns have LONG legs". That comes with working at keeping the scenarios fresh, combined with a client who's willing to roll with it because they've been presented with the possibilities of this kind of approach. Of course a lot of clients are not. And that's OK. But you'd be surprised at the number who ARE willing to roll the dice.
If these samples seem to break the "radio correctness" of a locally produced ad, consider this. I heard a Geico radio commercial that personalized "dust bunnies". Silly? Absolutely! But many radio station creatives are more than creative enough to come up with something as "out of the box" as that. Big agencies DON'T have exclusive dibs on creativity. The different sales points/events from ad to ad already lend some variety. Keeping the campaign a tad unpredictable, yet consistent, remains in the hands of the copywriter and producer to deliver the goods to show they're working for a client who might be already hesitant to put down hard earned money for radio ad campaigns (a pain in the butt sometimes, considering the other deadlines we're up against). And the account rep who continues to call on those clients usually bears the brunt of this reluctance. Yet, that client resistance may begin to thaw if they hear customers tell 'em they dig your station's commercials when shopping at their place of business.
Finally, I’ll wrap my assorted ramblings up with this commercial. It was inspired by a simple utilization of theater of the mind. Nothing earth shatteringly humorous, but still works to transform that "client has to be distant" perception into one that makes them human, and relatable -- not to mention fed up with his dopey announcer.
Kurt is the President at KK Creative Koncepts. He welcomes your correspondence at