Radio Hed: Commercial Structure - If You Build It (right), They Will Listen

by Jeffrey Hedquist

Lots of commercials catch the listener’s attention with an interesting story up front, followed by all the selling or marketing information. The listener’s been enticed to listen, but then there’s no reward for staying with the whole commercial. 

An improvement on that is to place the marketing material somewhere on the inside of the commercial in the “donut hole.” That way the entertainment value at least “wraps around” the marketing, so that the conclusion of the story, the punch-line, the surprise ending occurs at the end, giving the listener something to stay tuned for.

The ideal commercial has the entertainment and the marketing so integrated throughout the commercial that you couldn’t remove the marketing information, or the entertainment portions, and have it work. Each element is dependent upon the other. Each amplifies the other.

A good test to see whether you’ve developed something that integrates both elements, and also creates a story that is truly unique for that advertiser is to insert another advertiser’s name for the one in the commercial. If the commercial still works with the substituted name, you might want to rethink what you’ve written, because in some way you’ve created a spot that is so generic that it advertises a category instead of an advertiser.

A commercial should be a story, with a beginning a middle and an end with the entertainment and marketing dependent upon each other. If listeners are entertained while being sold, they’ll stay through the entire commercial the first time and through repeated listenings.