By Jeffrey Hedquist
They can be a caricature of the advertiser him/herself—especially if they’re already well known.
Create a confused or obtuse character that needs everything explained by a knowledgeable advertiser representative.
Use a category character as spokesperson or interviewee: The World’s Most Experienced Traveler, Mrs. Fuss-budget, Mr. Nervous, your Guardian Angel, The Extreme Dude for a sports store, Mr. Sandman for a bedding store, Mr. Know It All for a bookstore, an argumentative family for a video store.
I have a personal bias against anthropomorphic characters—talking trees, toothbrushes, cars etc.. I’m sure someone has made them work, but it’s rare. Also, characters with too much borrowed interest like Beavis & Butthead, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Jim Carey, etc. will soon become dated, are often over-used, and draw attention to themselves rather than to the advertiser.
Successful radio campaigns featuring characters abound: the funny characters for Nynex Yellow Pages, Tom Bodett for Motel 6, Charlton Heston and his Gen-X partners for Bud Light.
When you develop a character with an interesting story line, the audience will actually look forward to hearing each new episode. Anytime you can have that kind of compelling entertainment value in a commercial you’ve gone a long way towards getting the audience’s attention and interest and of course, results for your advertiser.