Tips & Techniques - September 1990

Color Coding Carts Based on Appeal

Walt Marsicano, Production Director at WYNF-FM in St. Petersburg, sends in this very interesting tip for color coding commercials based upon their audience appeal.

Shortly after I took over the production position at WYNF, I initiated a color code system for our spots that really seems to help in positioning our commercials when the jock gets ready to play them. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a jock on other stations plug a bar gig live, and then proceed to play another bar's ad first in the break. Or, the jock begins his break with some real obnoxious spot and then plays a real good lifestyle commercial or creative spot afterwards. What we do here is code our carts with red and green dots. A green dot means the commercial is appealing, well done, humorous, or perfect for our core audience, such as a concert spot. A red dot warns the jock that the ad is intrusive, poorly produced, or unappealing. You get the picture. These spots are "buried" within the spot cluster to disassociate them from the station and hopefully keep the listeners from pushing the buttons. Of course, none of our clients know about the system, and we've never had any questions raised about spot placement within a spot break.

I've also assigned specific colors to each of the jocks who do production on a regular basis, myself included. We use permanent Marks-A-Lot markers to number our carts, and each jock uses their assigned color. This way, the guy on the air can easily distinguish spots with the same voices on them and avoid playing two with the same talent back to back. All agency spots are numbered with a black marker, and the ones that have a locally produced tag are labeled using both the black marker and that particular jock's color. For example, if the cart number is "125" and the "blue" jock has tagged this agency spot, the "12" will be written in black and the "5" in blue. Sure, we also type our initials on the labels, but in most cases the jock won't bother to look at the label as long as the cart number on the log matches the one on the cart. That's all that matters to him. By color coding the labels, we've simplified the system for the jocks and our spot breaks sound a lot better. 

Copywriting: "Creative Generation Through Reality Association" or, "Another Way to Write Copy"

by Dave Oliwa

You've had a tough night. The bed leaked. The dog barked. The baby cried, and the alcohol didn't help much either. It's 9:30 a.m. and you've got to write a piece of copy like, now! What do you do? It could come out sounding like a laundry list. You could plan on the read being real slow so there didn't have to be much copy to write. Or, you could use what I call the "Get a Grip on Reality Association Method." It's a formula I use to write copy, even on the worst days, that works and gets rave reviews from Suit city and clients alike.

The most difficult part of writing copy for just about anyone is where to start, what concept to use, or how the spot should sound. I choose, Reality Association. Let's say the product is an Irish pub. Well, let's see. Irish: Irish music, clovers, smiles, luck, temper. My concept will have the music, maybe an accent if I can muster up one for sixty seconds, a line about putting on an Irish smile, another about cooling the Irish temper, and a line about luck. Maybe, "You could get lucky. After all, it's what the Irish are famous for."

How about a car dealer? This guy wants something loud and fast, so the music is preordained. Now, the copy. With reality association, you ask, "What do people do with cars?" They drive them, park them, race them, load them with groceries or camping equipment, and wash them. My copy would include the feelings you get when you strap yourself into the cockpit of the car that makes you think you're leading the pack at Indy. Or, load the trunk, belt the kids, and roll. Association aims for using terms that work with the identity of the product.

If you can cajole a second voice into helping you at that hour of the morning, go for two voice spots. I did a spot for a sports bar the other day. In reality, sports is two guys talking about the game in leap frog style, adding facts and figures as they go. Cue the basketball game sound effects:

Well Chuck, it looks like the Saturday crowd at the Bronco Sports Bar is up and ready for a great afternoon.

That's right Bob. The tailgate parties have already started in the parking lot.

Back to the action, Chuck. There's the big screen TV cutting around to the color monitors, waltzing around the pool tables, and bull's-eye! That dart thrower really hit the mark!

You get the idea. Reality association says make a determination about how the consumer will see and use the product. You'll find yourself stuck with the decision of what idea to choose, not what idea to use. But remember the copywriter's credo: Avoid clichés like the plague.

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