Peter Rosler, Owner/Principal, Rosler Creative, Dallas, TX
by Jerry Vigil
At the heart of any great piece of production is great copy, but what's at the heart of a good piece of copy? This month's interview turns to one of Dallas' top copywriters for the answer.
Peter Rosler packs over twenty years of experience behind the typewriter which include stints at such large agencies as Tracy-Locke, Bozell & Jacobs, and The Bloom Agency. While he still handles many of the creative tasks for a number of Dallas agencies, Peter has for the past ten years been on his own as principal of Rosler Creative. He has also developed a niche for himself developing TV spots for radio stations across the country.
How good is Peter? Well, his walls and bookshelves are trimmed with close to one hundred local and regional awards for his work. Most recently he walked away with a gold and a silver award from last year's Dallas Advertising League's Tops show, not to mention the six awards he took from the same show the year before. Also on Peter's resume' is the copywriting class he taught at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
If you write copy for your station, lock the door, hold all phone calls, and read on. The next few pages are a must for you.
R.A.P.: What's the formula for a good creative commercial?
Peter: Most big agencies use some kind of creative strategy form. The form I use, and the one I used in my copywriting class, is a typical big agency form. It takes you through the strategic positioning of what you're trying to do and lets you know what problem you're trying to solve before you get in there. There are four major items on the form: "Key Fact," "Problem the Advertising Must Solve," "Advertising Objective," "Creative Strategy," and an optional item called "Mandatories and Policy Limitations."
The first item on the form, "Key Fact," is the key fact that you want to communicate, whether it be that a client has a new location or the product is on sale. The next item, "Problem the Advertising Must Solve," kind of overlaps the Key Fact a little bit. "Advertising Objective" again might overlap the other two items, and all of these can be filled out with real vague terms. Many times that is what happens, but you wind up with a fairly good picture of what it is the ad is supposed to do.
The "Creative Strategy" portion of the form is broken down into four areas: "Prospect Definition," "Principal Competition," "Key Consumer Benefit," and "Reason Why." The "Prospect Definition" is your target audience. Who are they? What are they? What do they like? What do they dislike? There's often quite a bit of research done to support those findings. Research also finds out what's happening in the marketplace and in the real world, and what the competition is doing. This information goes under "Principal Competition" and lets you know who they are and what they're doing. The "Key Consumer Benefit" is certainly the one thing you want to communicate. "Reason Why" would explain the "Key Consumer Benefit," whether it's a price or a limited time offer or whatever.
The last, optional item is the "Legal Mandatories and Policy Limitations" which sometimes need to be there, especially if you're selling used cars.
It's just a matter of focusing your thinking, frankly. You can put any terminology down on this form, but the objective is to get you thinking in a particular direction. First you want to know "who am I talking to?" and secondly, "What do I want to tell them, and what is it to them?" You want to put yourself in the shoes and mind of the consumer who is going to be listening to your commercial, and the basic problem that a copywriter needs to overcome is the number one question from the listener which is, "What's in it for me? Why should I be listening to this? What am I going to get out of it?" Those are the things the copywriter has to answer.
This is just one way that big agencies use to get you thinking. There is no standard, but you always want to have a target. You always want to know whom you're talking to; and you always want to know what your message is which is determined by the "Competition," the "Key Fact," and the "Consumer Benefit."
R.A.P.: Do you ever just come up with a creative idea for a spot without having a client or product, or do you always start with the product first then move on to the creative?
Peter: I usually have the product first, but sometimes you can come up with a great idea first. If you can make it fit a problem, then fine, but I think a lot of products and campaigns have failed because someone thought, "Oh, this is a great product," and they went and produced it and found that there was no need or desire for it, or the competition had them whipped, or they just didn't know what they were doing. It's great to come up with a great idea, but it has to have a focus. It has to answer some question or solve some problem or communicate something you're trying to communicate; and, above all, it has to sell. That is the umbrella that overrides everything I would say, especially on radio, unless you've got a campaign where your objective is not to sell but to raise awareness or communicate some piece of information. But normally, you're trying to sell something.
R.A.P.: How do you think radio copywriting compares to television and print?
Peter: I think radio is the greatest challenge to a copywriter, and I think it is probably the most neglected in advertising today. Most of the top talent want to do television, and that's certainly understandable. It's great and it's a lot of fun. Print used to be king, and I think it is extremely important. I grew up on print, and I think print is probably the foundation of any advertising promotion. Radio really is difficult. Few people are trained in it and few people are famous for it.
When I did my course outline at SMU, I took most of my stuff out of David Ogilvie. I researched Ogilvie intensely and found that he had virtually nothing to say about radio except for four things that I used that frankly I'm not even sure I agree with. They are: 1) Identify your product early, 2) Identify it often, 3) Promise a benefit early, and 4) Promise it often. That creates formula advertising, and David Ogilvie just didn't seem to care about radio for some reason.
The first thing radio has to do is get people to listen, because if they're not listening, then it doesn't matter what you do or say. There are several ways to get people to listen. You can surprise them, arouse their curiosity, wake them up, involve them, charm them, or make them laugh. All of this is done through the use of sound and sound alone. In radio you have three basic tools to work with, and they're all auditory. You've got voice, music, and sound effects, and anything out of the ordinary in any of these categories will work to get people's attention. And when you use sound effects, use familiar sounds like barking dogs, cheers, door slams, train whistles and so on. This helps the spot sound believable and realistic.
R.A.P.: Can radio spots be divided into certain basic categories?
Peter: I came up with a list for my copywriting class that gave students a choice of techniques or executions they could pick from when they set out to write a piece of copy. They are 1) straight announcer; 2) straight announcer with sound effects; 3) a dialogue, not a monologue done by two voices, but a dialogue that establishes a relationship between characters and has a reason for the conversation; 4) multiple voice vignettes; 5) humor spots; 6) spots that use music as the key element; 7) narratives or story telling; 8) on-the-street interviews; and 9) testimonials. This was a beginner's class and I just wanted to give them a list they could look at to help them get started.
R.A.P.: I think you listed every kind of radio spot ever done! This would be a good list to slap on the wall next to the typewriter.
Peter: Exactly. That's what I think a list like this would be good for. Otherwise, you might not think about doing some testimonials or a narrative or whatever. It serves as a memory trigger. In fact, when I officed at a big agency, I had a full page David Ogilvie self-promotion print ad that was, "How to Write Good TV." It listed several rules and guidelines, and I had that posted up on my wall for years.
R.A.P.: Of the nine basic commercial techniques you listed, are there any that you would say, on the whole, work better than the rest, or does it all depend upon how the spot is done?
Peter: It all depends on how it's done, what the message is, and how well it's presented, written and produced. I think one of the most successful radio campaigns of recent is the Tom Bodett stuff, and that's just a straight announcer with a one-track music background; but the voice is a "down homey" kind of guy, and that's what the product is, a "down homey" kind of place that's not expensive. The voice selection and the attitude for that campaign were right on the money, and they make you like the product which is the main thing you want to do.
You don't want to hit people over the head with a hammer because people don't like to be hit over the head with a hammer. You want to make people like the product, and the way to do that is to make them like your advertising. If they like your advertising, they'll like your product. If they hate your advertising, except for rare exceptions, that thinking reflects on to your product. You don't have to be funny or witty or clever or really get into humor, but it's great to have a positive attitude about and around your advertising. You want the listener saying, "I like that commercial. I'm not sure what it's about, but I sort of like that commercial." That "halo" effect is what you want.
R.A.P.: What are some other lists or guidelines you offered your students that might help radio station copywriters?
Peter: Well, I also had a list that I called "Ten Rules for Making Better Radio" that I culled from several sources combined with my experience. First is, "Identify your sound effects." Tell the listeners what they're hearing. In radio, sometimes you plug in a sound effect and you think everyone is going to know what that is because you live with production and sound effects; but unfortunately, people don't. They hear a noise and they don't know whether that is a box being dragged across the floor or whatever. So you should say, "Hey, quit dragging that box across the floor!" There should be something in that spot that identifies the sound that you're hearing. Instead of just the sound of planes, you might have the copy say, "Wow, I've never seen so many planes," or something that helps the listener identify what the sound effect is right away, unless it's really obvious. This helps create that image in the theatre of the mind. Good radio should be visual. When you identify your sound effects and tell listeners what they're hearing, you're setting something up in their mind.
Number two is "Use Music as a Sound Effect." It can be used to tell the listener where you are. A calliope tells you that you're at a circus. An "oompah" band says German. A ukulele says Hawaii. A bugle says racetrack or military. "Here Comes the Bride" tells you you're at a wedding and so on. There are certain musical cues that right away set up an environment in the mind.
Number three is "Build a Commercial around a Sound." When I was at Tracy-Locke, I worked on the Doritos campaign, the Avery Schriver "crunching" campaign. Even though that was television, it was built around the power of a sound. Since radio is an auditory medium, why not use that? Maybe it's the "thundering" power of a new bank account.
Number four is "Write 60's If Possible." Take the time to set up your premise and establish the scene. I'm not sure this always applies because sometimes sixty seconds is a long time to fill. You need to be a pretty accomplished writer to write a good sixty.
Number five is "Consider No Sound Effects At All." Sometimes just a distinctive voice or a great story is enough.
Rule number six is "Beware of Comedy," and I'll talk a little bit more about that later.
Rule number seven is, "If you do comedy, be outrageous." Drain Lake Michigan and fill it up with whipped cream or have a car engine talking back to you.
Rule number eight is pretty standard. "Keep It Simple." I think this is really important for clients that want a lot of items listed. Once you start listing copy points and benefits in a radio spot, you're going to lose your listener because they don't care and they can't remember everything. If you can get them to remember one thing, then you're doing a great job. The only exception would be your retail stores like a Highland Appliance. If you watch Highland's commercials or listen to them, you'll see that they'll list maybe three items, and that's it. That's sort of a rule of thumb for retail that I've heard from different sources, and that's probably based on a lot of research. Once you start jamming more than three things into a spot -- I mean specific things like a Sony TV for ninety-nine ninety-five, a microwave for sixty-four ninety-five, etc. -- more than three items and it becomes a laundry list and nobody cares. I know a lot of clients want to list everything they have, but if they have to do that, keep it to three per spot.
Rule number nine pertains to the fact that radio is so local. You can target your spot so tightly that you can, for instance, target just the people driving on Central Expressway this morning. Buy your radio around a traffic report. You can specialize the message to such a tight market and a local market that it's just a terrific medium. If I had a store next to a freeway, I'd be thinking about having sales from five to seven in the afternoon and running spots that say, "If you're driving home from work, stop into Northpark Mall and take advantage of this two hour sale!" Do stuff like that where you can really zero in on a customer base for a client.
The tenth item on my list is "Present a Demo Tape." This probably pertains more to sales than copywriting and production, but I was teaching from an agencies point of view and the demo tape of the spot is part of the whole presentation.
On a little side bar, for smaller stations and smaller markets where local advertising is so important, these stations may not be able to provide this kind of creative. Stations like this might consider getting some of the many libraries that are available that offer syndicated commercial jingles. Firstcom has one that utilizes the creative talents of Chuck Blore and great people like that. There are ways to do great radio by buying packages that have a lot of the creative done for you, then you don't have to worry about any of this stuff.
R.A.P.: You wanted to elaborate on using humor in spots. What are some guidelines and thoughts there?
Peter: I'd hesitate to put any guidelines and formulas on humor. I think humor is a wonderful, spontaneous, serendipitous kind of thing, and if you can pull it off, great. But there are some cautions that I presented to my students.
It's great to use humor, but in an advertising environment it needs to have a connection. There should be a link between the humor and the message. For example, you wouldn't want to have fifty-five seconds of a comedy vignette and then tag it with, "This minute of comedy is brought to you by First National Bank." On the other hand, you make the connection if you tag it, "...from First National Bank, making you feel better in bad times." Or something like, "...from Zales Jewelers. All we want to do is make you smile." It works as long as there's a connection.
Humor is very tricky because it is such a subjective thing, and there are several questions you need to ask yourself about a humorous spot. Does the spot relate to human experience? Will the listeners really "relate" to it? Is the spot really funny, not just a funny voice, but does it have a funny premise? Does the comedy sell the product? The test of failure there is if you laugh but don't remember the product. You have to ask whether or not the spot treats the product with respect. You don't want to make fun of the product; you want to HAVE fun with the product. Is the spot honest? Can the listener believe in the characters or the premise of the humor? You have to check to be sure the humor targets the right audience. You don't want to write a comedy spot with humor that turns off your target. Another thing to be cautious about with humor is the burn out factor. Comedy burns out very fast, so your campaign should have variety and be continually updated or freshened. Finally, ask yourself if the spot is simple and direct. Does it capture attention, maintain concentration, develop and resolve the concept, and, at the same time, sell the product?
R.A.P.: What other tips for copywriters can you pull out of your hat?
Peter: Well, one thing you can do on your copy paper is describe your voices off to the side of the script. Don't just say, "male voice 1," say, "mature, older, serious, believable man," or, "eager, young teen with slightly squeaky tone." This helps you know who it is you're writing script for, and it will help your talent also. It will give them a visual picture of who and what the character is. That's basic voice direction. It also helps you target your audience. You want your voice to match your message. If you've got something funny to talk about, you want that voice to be funny. If you've got a serious thing going on, you want the voice to communicate that seriousness. The voice is one of the three things you've got going for you between voice, music, and sound effects, so you need to think through just exactly what that voice is going to be.
Radio is really the only medium where you can just go crazy and do things like have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir parachute into the Grand Canyon while singing about the toilet bowl cleaner or whatever the product is. If you're good and can use a sound, a piece of music, or an effect of some kind to set up the theatre of the mind, you can go anywhere, and it doesn't cost as much as TV.
R.A.P.: What about testimonials? What tips can you give on producing this type of spot?
Peter: Use real people, people that are believable and personable. I did a campaign for Wyatt's Cafeterias four years ago -- in fact they re-ran the campaign this year -- and we just used "real people." I knew the points I wanted to communicate, and I wrote some sample scripts. But I knew that whatever I wrote, it couldn't be done as well as what I'd get if the words came out of real people's mouths, especially if you run a lot of tape. So we just went around to the cafeterias over several evenings and targeted the kind of folks we wanted, got a good interviewer who could ask leading questions, and got a terrific campaign.
One of the spots talks strictly about taking your kids to Wyatt's because you don't have to clean up afterwards. I got all these people to say all these different things about that one specific point. You don't go out and say, "Let's get a bunch of people talking," you say, "Let's get people talking about these three benefits." We knew from research that people liked to go to Wyatt's because they didn't have to clean up afterwards, not to mention that it's inexpensive, and it's an easy outing where you can take the whole family and everyone can get whatever they want.
On this kind of spot you want to know what you want the people to talk about before you go out. Then you want to roll a lot of tape and spend a lot in post -- do a lot in editorial. We probably tossed 95% of what we got, but the benefit is that the testimonials with real people add a lot of believability to your message. People can tell what's talent and what's "real people."
R.A.P.: It seems like testimonials are one of the oldest methods of advertising, and it seems to be wide open to any client that sells to the public. Would you agree?
Peter: Yes. If you're talking about selling mainframe computers to big banks, I can't think of anything more impressive than having four or five bank presidents saying, "We got this big mainframe computer from IBM, and our profits have gone up fourteen percent." That's a serious endorsement as long as it's done by the target listener's peer or as long as it makes sense. Testimonials are done a lot because they work.
R.A.P.: You taught in your class at SMU that the best ideas come from the product. Elaborate on that.
Peter: Well, the product is what you're selling, so if you can pull ideas from it, you're one step ahead already. When I was working on Quaker Oats, I wanted to feature the "Quaker Man" because that's a product kind of thing. The product and the personality of the product should match the personality of the spot. An example I used to use a lot in my classes was the Brannif Airlines campaign. Brannif had always positioned themselves as the feisty, fighting underdog airline that was taking on the big boys, and Wilford Brimley, the voice talent for the campaign, sort of epitomizes that.
Another example of a good idea coming from the product is that famous Stan Freeburg thing about the "eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can" for Contadina Tomato Paste. In other words, the product is what you're talking about. "Eight great tomatoes in that little bitty can" tells you right away what that product is. "Wow, there's eight tomatoes worth of tomato paste in there!"
Your commercial is usually about some product, some thing. You should think about that product. You should focus your brain on the product and try to get into it and find whatever it is you can pull out of that product and make interesting. If it's a shoe store, then you want to get into those shoes, look at those shoes, feel them and touch them and think about what you can do with those shoes. Find a personality for those shoes.
Getting back to the creative strategy form we talked about earlier, another agency uses another form that they call a "PPP" -- a Product Personality Profile. What they look for on this form are two or three paragraphs that are a description of the personality of the product which can then be converted to a description of the buyer. For a new soap they might say, "New Dial Supreme is a feisty, feminine, independent thinking kind of soap because it does this and that...." So you basically describe the personality of the product, and that helps you better understand who the ultimate buyer is and how to communicate with that buyer.
R.A.P.: What thoughts do you have about the production of a commercial?
Peter: Chuck Blore says, "Produce the hell out of everything you can." If you can maximize the use of your sound effects, music, and voice, and really produce a terrific piece of communication, it'll just work better. It's real easy to write a simple announcer voice over music, take the first take, and go on to the next thing; but even if you're just using a voice and a music track, think about it. Do some-thing with the voice and do a better music search. Get a better music library if you don't have a good one. You need music that supports your message. Try a couple of different things and take a little more time with the spot. Produce a great spot, otherwise, you're not doing what you should. You should try to produce everything you produce wonderfully. I'm not saying you can produce everything wonderfully every time, but it should always be a goal.
R.A.P.: Is repetition really significant in a commercial?
Peter: Repetition is important. It annoys me sometimes when I hear commercials and it's like they're trying to hide the name of the product or what they want you to do. Repeating the product name, the benefit, or the message is effective, and you should try to end your spot with the product name or benefit. The worse thing I've heard are spots where they think they're trying to be funny by saying some cute thing at the end that has nothing to do with the product or message. I don't mind a cute stinger, just as long as there's that linkage. You're going to have to do some repetition, and if you're going to end with anything, it might as well be product name or benefit.
R.A.P.: What about repeating a phone number several times in a commercial? Is that really effective?
Peter: Have you ever called up a phone number from a radio commercial?
Peter: Well, there you go. Unless your objective is to communicate that number, it's a waste of time to keep repeating it. If you're trying to sell a product, sell the product, not the phone number. Direct the listeners to the Yellow Pages. You're much better off just saying the phone number once, or the address, or saying "Look us up in the Yellow Pages." If you direct the listener to the Yellow Pages, you'll save a ton of time in your copy, plus it legitimizes a business to be listed in the Yellow Pages.
Consider also that half of radio listenership is in the car. How many people have car phones, and who's going to call in unless it's a talk show? Therefore, half the time you're talking to someone with a radio commercial, they're not going to write down a phone number. They're driving somewhere. The other half of the time, it's morning, they're getting ready to go to work, or they're preparing dinner. It's not like people sit around with pen in hand waiting to write down phone numbers off of radio commercials. Anyone who thinks that is just fooling themselves.
It's the same with addresses. Unless you're out in the middle of nowhere, it's a waste of time to give address after address or repeat the same address over and over. Direct them to the Yellow pages or somewhere else for the location. In the past, I've done a lot of multi-media work for homebuilders, and we always used the radio to do what we were supposed to be doing, and print for location -- "...look for our ad in the Sunday paper." Again, unless the phone number or address is your communication objective, one time should do it.
R.A.P.: What can you say to the radio client who always wants something "new and different" every time he hits the airwaves with a flight of spots?
Peter: Most advertisers fall out of love with their campaign long before potential prospects have even heard it. You need to have continuity and run stuff for a long time if you can, unless it's something that's funny and burns out quickly. It helps to build up a sustainable campaign. I'll give you a TV example. In this market I do the "Flex Your Plex" campaign for KPLX [Country FM in Dallas/Fort Worth], and it has been going for five years now. Now, all you have to hear is, "Look who's flexin' their plex" and right away you know who it's for. Of course, we freshen it and keep it new with different celebrities "flexin' their plex." If you can have continuity in your advertising -- at least with a theme line, or a spokesperson, or something -- if you can have continuity and leave it on for a long enough time to really penetrate the market, then so much the better.
R.A.P.: What about music selection for a spot? What should we keep in mind when selecting music?
Peter: Radio is primarily a music medium, so your listeners are already attuned to music. If you're targeting a spot to your 18-24 year old listeners, hit them with music they'll like. If the listener goes away humming the client's tune, the spot's a winner. The music can be a signature just as much as a theme line. Take American Airlines as an example of a campaign that has stayed with the same musical theme. Don't be afraid to assign a certain piece of music to a client for all his spots. As with campaigns, clients will be the first to fall out of love with their music bed or jingle long before the market has been totally penetrated.
R.A.P.: It's no secret to Production Directors that if given more time to write and produce spots, better spots would get on the air; but at many stations, production people and station copywriters deal with clients who wait until the last minute to buy their radio time, and the salespeople are usually the first to say, "Sure, we can get your spot on tomorrow!" The result is a lot of boring announcer-over-music spots on the air. What's your view of this situation?
Peter: It's a matter of salespeople training the clients and saying, "Hey, if you give us 48 hours, you'll have a better commercial; and the money you're paying will be more productive." How often does one day make a difference, I mean, really? When you get right down to it, these salespeople are just brow-beaten by clients. That's the problem, and that's why there's so much schlock on the radio. I don't mean to lay it on the sales guys, but it's their job and their responsibility to be marketing partners with their clients. If you're an order taker, okay, so be it; but if you're a good salesperson, you should be a marketing partner with your client. If a station has a problem like this with their clients, I think it's a matter of salespeople being salespeople and not being marketing people. That's a disservice to radio station clients because what happens then is they'll run a campaign once, and they won't really get the results that they hoped for or were promised. Then they're off the air and they don't believe in radio any more.
A dull commercial is also a disservice to the radio station because it will turn people off just as quickly as the wrong song. Better commercials make for better ratings because the radio station sounds better.
R.A.P.: How much time do you need to come up with a good piece of copy, not a full-fledged campaign, but just a good piece of creative copy for a short, one-week run of spots for some mom and pop restaurant?
Peter: Well, I'd like to know what it is the client would like to accomplish and sort of do the drill on the "Key Fact" thing, but if I could put it on the top of my list of things to do, I'd say maybe a couple of hours. You need time to explore it a little bit. You need time to look at ideas that won't work, too, because they'll lead you to ideas that will work. Sometimes it'll take me a couple of weeks or a couple of days under certain circumstances; but if you can just sit with that one problem and maybe have someone to work with and bounce ideas off of, within a couple of hours you should be able to have something.
R.A.P.: Do you have any special technique to get your ideas, or do ideas for spots just pop into your head?
Peter: I usually like to absorb as much as I can about a project. I read the research and whatever else I can find about it. I listen to the people talk about it and take notes and absorb as much as I can, then I get away from it and go on to something else. I let it sort of internally gestate. Then if I don't come up with something right away, I get back on it the next day. If you can spread it over time, so much the better.
I work on the typewriter, so I'll start typing headlines, copy lines, approaches, and visual ideas. Sometimes I'll take a run, and other times I'll get with someone else and just bounce ideas around in a totally guilt free environment. Sometimes the synergy of more than one person can produce something real good.
Of course, there's always the deadline. That's my favorite motivator. There's nothing like a deadline to take care of any block I might have. Sometimes I will create deadlines for myself just to force the issue. I'll tell people, "I'll have this for you Tuesday by 3 o'clock," and then I've got to have it done.
Another method I use to come up with ideas is to think of negative benefits. What happens if I don't have this product? "If I don't have this new Dial soap, then I'm gonna smell," and that kind of thinking. Put yourself in the position of, "What if I didn't have this?"
Another good trick for any radio or advertising copywriter to use is the Problem/Solution approach. It's a classic technique that's used in TV commercials all the time, and there's no reason why it can't be used in radio. Every product you're advertising should be a solution to a problem for somebody; therefore, you can come up with a scenario where you set up a problem and then bring your product to the rescue as a solution. It's another standard advertising approach. It can be done with humor. It can be done seriously. It can be done with a variety of different techniques, but a Problem/Solution execution is always something a good copywriter wants to at least consider.
Also, I always think of the primal urges: Hunger, sex, and ego. Those are things you're always trying to connect with somehow. You don't necessarily have to get these things in the spot, but keep in mind that there are certain primal human needs, and if you can help fulfill them, then it just makes for an easier sell. People want to feel better about themselves, or they don't want to feel guilty about something. They want to be thinner. They have to eat. They need the closeness of other people. Those, to me, are some primal urges and primal needs that we should just be aware of when we're trying to communicate with other people.
R.A.P.: Are most of your clients local accounts?
Peter: Aside from radio stations across the country, yes. I just did a national radio campaign for Pizzeria Unos which is based out of Boston. I'm also working on Fudrucker's which is another national chain operating out of Boston also. Primarily, my work is regional. When you're not in a big agency environment, you normally do not work with national accounts.
R.A.P.: What are some of the radio stations outside of Dallas that you've done some TV campaigns for?
Peter: WNSR in New York, KLSI in Seattle, WMIX in Baltimore, WRAL in Raleigh, and WSTF in Orlando come to mind right away.
R.A.P.: In Dallas you did a great outdoor campaign for KLIF which featured different lines from the lyrics of popular country music written across the billboards. It seemed like a very simple campaign yet very effective. How did you arrive at this idea?
Peter: Jim Long and I developed those. We were driving back to Dallas from a meeting about this station's campaign and just talking about things we could do for KLIF. We were only handling the outdoor promotion, so our heads were thinking "outdoor, outdoor!" When you put the rules in your brain of what you can do with outdoor, you realize that you've got to be quick -- clever if possible, but you've got to be quick. We just tossed ideas back and forth and thought about all those country lyrics. "She took everything but the blame." "I gave her a ring, and she gave me the finger." Then I came up with a theme line that was, "Country songs tell a story."
I knew another copywriter in the area, a guy named Larry Suns, who had done a poster featuring all these country and western lines, so we got hold of him and got his help. The idea was born out of a synergy of a couple of people discussing how to communicate an attitude of a radio station. This is something that came literally out of the product. What's the product? The product is these songs and these funny lyrics and the way they make you feel. It's just a matter of looking at your product. It's a country/western station. The product is the music. You look at the songs and what comes out of them. It's really pretty simple. When an idea like this hits, it's like a flash of lightning and it's wonderful. It's a great feeling.