Radio Hed: Subtract to Seduce: “Bob Newhart” Your Commercials

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

The most compelling creative efforts are those in which the viewer, the listener, the audience participates. It gives them the “aha” experience. It elevates and energizes them.

From a marketing perspective, when you engage your potential customer in that way, they become more likely to embrace your message, because they have made it their own.

Visual creations – art, design and advertising use white space to accomplish this. In music, it’s the pauses, the gaps between notes that draw us in. Comics use precise bits of silence before punch lines.

With audio, the power of suggestion is often more powerful than revelation or overt description. Humans are curious. We have a desire to discover, to complete, to fill in the vacuum.

Too often our clients and we feel compelled to deliver every part of the story to our audience.

Don’t. Don’t tell the whole story. Leave some blanks, some gaps for the listener to fill in. It kind of teases them, and gets them to participate. And if you get your audience to participate then they are going to have that “aha” experience. The commercial tells part of the story, and the listener in their own mind tells him or herself the other part of the story.

Television can’t do that as well because it’s often too explicit. One of the best descriptions of the power of radio I received from a furniture retailer years ago, who said, with television, you are showing an art director’s view of what an ideal room would look like and hopefully the prospect says, “Oh, yeah. That’s great. I’d love to have that.”

But with radio, every listener is creating his or her own visuals. You can simply say, “Picture the room of your dreams.” If you have 5678 listeners, you’ve got 5678 different rooms being created in their minds at that moment. Then you can talk about how you can fill in all elements to make that room their own.

Give the listener the ingredients, the tools, most of the story and let them make the connections. Let them fill in the blanks.

Bob Newhart’s standup routines often positioned the audience eavesdropping on one half of a telephone conversation. Each of Bob’s lines was artfully delivered so that the audience would fill in the other party’s responses and reach humorous conclusions.

Try asking the listener a question, pausing for an answer, then commenting on an imagined response (that the listener supplies).

Here’s part of commercial we created that sold millions of dollars of homes for our client:

Music: in & under

Tell me about the home of your dreams.

SFX: Chinese bell tree

Uh huh. What about the kitchen?

SFX: Chinese bell tree

Oh yeah. And the baths?

SFX: Chinese bell tree

What’s your ideal family room like?

SFX: Chinese bell tree

Wow. So now what are you going to do? Dream some more, or do something about it? Etc…

Subtracting pieces of the puzzle is seductive and the highest form or interactivity. Interactivity brings the prospect that much closer to making a buying decision.

© 1997–2012 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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