by Trent Rentsch
We are so limited, it’s little wonder that the problem exists. I mean, look at how few letters make up our alphabet! I mean, how many words can you make out of 26 letters anyway? Restraints like that make Creatives nuts. Look what happened to the Artist formerly known as Prince. He had to come up with a 27th just to avoid the sameness and cause some talk.
And who has time? We’re all busy doing, something! We must be, otherwise there would be time to imagine something new, overcoming the obstacles our measly language offers us! There are so many ads to write and/or produce in the average day, and if the client is happy, who cares if it sounds like the last ad you did for him, or the client before him, and the client before that, and the one last week… what the hell, the listeners channel surf during the spots anyway!
Besides, if you listen to the experts, there’s only one right way to do ads. There was that expert that came into town last week in fact, who told a whole roomful of your salesfolk and clients that his formula was the BEST WAY to do an ad! He even went so far as to suggest that any ad not done his way was a waste of advertising dollars, that ALL RADIO ADS should sound exactly like his examples! Now, to your ears, the examples just wouldn’t play to your stations audience, but then this guy is an expert, and you’ve only been dealing with the station’s image day in, day out for years. Of course he knows best; he’s worldly. He goes from town to town preaching his sameness year after year, while you are stuck in one city, one station, just dealing with the audience at hand… yeah, like YOU know anything!
I’m sure given a few hundred more pages or so, I could come up with all the excuses, but leaving it at this handful, let’s look at this advertising blight called redundancy.
It reminds me of the Henry Ford School of Thought, that the world is a very finite place, where an assembly line approach creates goods that are consistent and equal. The theory is that these products are sought after…and desirable. What Henry didn’t count on was that some competitor would come along with something different, even if only a body shape, and suddenly it would become more popular than his cookie cutter designs. Why? Human nature. People aren’t machines. Each person is incredibly complex and diverse, especially in taste. No one wants exactly the same thing everyone else has. They want something that defines them, that is an extension of that unique personality. That’s why we now have Fords AND Chevrolets, Buicks, Hondas, Yugos, Harleys, Goldwings, Rollerblades and Nikes.
We have different radio stations, different formats, for that very reason. Every station fills a void for the listener, becomes a part of their life story, says something about who they are, relates to who they are…or should. Consolidation seems to have made some radio groups forget that fact. The same ad that ran on the country station is running on the talk station and the alternative station and the Top 40 down the hall…the same ad that was originally produced to run on the love songs show on the Lite AC station in the evenings.
Who are we talking to? Who cares! At least that’s the message that is being hammered home. It’s that kind of apathy for the real communication potential radio has that is going to once and for all destroy the medium.
The developers of Internet broadcasting understand that one size does not fit all. Niche marketing is everywhere on the Net. No matter your interests, you’ll find sites TOTALLY devoted to them! They ask those who frequent their sites what they want, what their interests are, and they give it to them, THE WAY THEY WANT IT! You won’t find Marilyn Manson on the Benny Goodman site because the developers realize that if they don’t give browsers the big band they are coming to hear, there will be no hits…and no more advertisers!
With this brave new medium out there, this is the worst time for radio to take a step back and ignore research, ignore its audience’s wants and needs. “Same old” for everyone won’t cut it. The listeners not only demand their own unique voice, they deserve it, if we truly value their loyalty. So when the same script comes down from the Music of Your Life outlet, take a moment and rearrange those 26 letters in a way those Classic Rockers can relate to, if anything, to give that tuning knob a rest during the next stop set.