Editor's Note: Welcome to The Promo Page, a new section of R.A.P. we think you'll like. Much of the information in R.A.P. deals with commercials and promos on a general level. In this new section of RAP, we will get more specific about particular promos and promotions. The idea for this page came from award winning Creative Services Director Larry Williams of Y-98 FM in St. Louis. Each month, or as often as material is available, we will select a promo and/or promotion and get specific about the details in the mechanics of the promotion and/or the production of the promo(s). In addition, as is the case this month, you will also get a "generic" promo script you can "steal" for you station.
To kick this section off, we've chosen the winning large market promo from last year's R.A.P. Awards written and produced by Larry Williams. Larry tells us how the promo came to be, how it was produced, and then offers a generic creative image promo you can use at your station. As a little icing on the cake, both the "Snookums" promo and a produced version of the generic promo are on this month's Cassette.
by Larry Williams
"Where did you get the idea for that promo?" It seems like I'm asked this question all the time. Revealing sources for ideas has never been my strong suit. I've always been very cautious about it, thinking that if people knew how easy it was to write good creative promos, then everyone would be doing it. Now that I have overcome my initial paranoia, I would like to share with you how I came up with "Snookums & Punkin." In case you might have missed it previously, we have included it on this month's Cassette.
My wife and I always use "pet" words for each other. It's a kind of tongue-in-cheek thing that we have fun with. One day, I was in my studio talking on the phone with her when one of the salespeople came by. He overheard the majority of the conversation and ribbed me about it for most of the morning (it actually was pretty funny when you stop and think about it). The ole gears started churning in my head, and within about twenty minutes the copy was completely written.
I began with the premise that these two love birds would start off calling each other nice things and end up in a squabble, calling each other bad names. I wrote down all the pet names I could think of, from "Snookums" and "Punkin," to the basics, "Honey" and "Love," to the opposite end of the spectrum, "Four-Eyes" and "Bubble-Butt."
Now, we'll add some plot by having them involved in an argument at the one time when they should be in love the most... their wedding night. Let's put them on the honeymoon and have the fight about one of them not packing something. The station I was working at was X100 in San Francisco, and I remembered seeing an old reel in the production room entitled "Practice Safe X." The reel dates back to a time before I worked there, and I didn't know what was on it, but I used the concept anyway. This is the 90's, and they're married now. They don't need to practice safe sex anymore. That's the tie in: forgot the condoms, practice safe sex. They forgot the radio, practice safe X!
In everything I do, I try to include "theatre of the mind" touches. Thus, we add the storybook announcer tracks and the music box music bed. This sets the atmosphere and mood for the promo. It starts out as a children's story and gradually gets out of control with a very adult ending.
I hope that this short article can give you a little insight as to how to develop ideas into effective creative promos. Try to develop a few of your own ideas this way. Remember, the only way to learn a new technique or come up with fresh ideas is to practice. Experiment around a little and have fun with it. After all, isn't that why we're in this business in the first place?
Here's a generic creative promo I wrote for all R.A.P. subscribers. "Dr. Feelgood" can be produced by any R.A.P. subscriber by inserting the city and call letters where needed. On this month's Cassette, you will find a copy of the promo to show how it should sound when completed. The only difference between what is in the copy and the version on The Cassette is that I did the patient's voice myself. The patient's part was written for a female voice, but I just didn't have one around when I had to go to production in time for The Cassette. As they used to say in the old Alka-Seltzer commercial, "Try it, you'll like it!"
(German accent Doc. Sultry female patient starts out calm but gradually gets loud and crazy.)
Doc: What seems to be the problem?
Patient: Well Doc, I can't seem to stop! It started out innocent enough. I'd do it once or sometimes twice a day. Usually in the morning... you know, before I go to work.
Patient: Now, it's getting out of control. I find myself thinking about it all day long. I can't control it. I'm even starting to do it in public places!
Doc: Hmmmm... very interesting.
Patient: I do it in my car! Just the other day my boss caught me doing it. He didn't seem to mind. Now HE'S doing it at work, too! Everyone in the office is doing it now! It feels like everyone around me is hooked! You have to help me Doc! (ad lib crazy for 20 seconds)
ANNCR: Caution: All over (insert city name), average, healthy, normal people are exhibiting symptoms of an extremely rare compulsive behavior. Watch for the warning signs: constant pleasure, musical satisfaction, and a smile from ear to ear. If you DON'T experience any of these symptoms, you have only one cure: tune in more often, to (insert call letters)...
(Patient still screaming crazy in background)
Doc: Nurse, send in the two gentlemen in the white suits...
ANNCR: You just might get... carried away.
(Hit a cappella jingle)