Radio Hed: Contrast

radio-hed-logo1By Jeffrey Hedquist

The use of contrast in a radio commercial will draw attention, make it interesting, create the unexpected and keep listeners from falling asleep. Too often commercials are all one flavor - sea of audio beige.

 Try juxtaposing silence and noise or two widely different music cuts to tell the story of two aspects of a product or service.

 Use differing sound effects to switch the scene from one locale to another.

 Your biggest opportunity for contrast is with voices. Play contrasting emotions off each other. Write your spot so that each character has one strong consistent emotion, different from the rest. After you’ve written the spot you can modify the interplay to build in some subtlety, to show some transition. The Bud Light commercials with Charlton Heston were a good example of contrasting voices and attitudes.

 Something as simple as an alternating hard sell voice and a soft sell voice, both doing parodies of their genres can be both entertaining and effective.

 Bob and Ray’s slow talker/fast talker routine would be a good basis for a commercial. Contrasting lifestyles: Old money/entrepreneur, formal/informal, timid/bold, irrepressibly happy/deeply depressed, Mr. Optimist/Mr. Pessimist. Two characters like Felix and Oscar, The Odd Couple, could yield possibilities for a long-running radio campaign.

Listen to our spot for “Wing It” on the RAP CD to hear two announcers with vastly different levels of experience extol the virtues of a place that specializes in chicken wings.

However you build in contrast it will add life to the story you’re telling and perk up the ears of those jaded radio listeners. Dump the bland; bring on the salsa!

© 2001 Hedquist Productions, Inc.

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