Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: george carlin

Radio ads: Why they didn’t work for you (and what you can do about it)

Radio advertising works, when you do it right! So what went wrong and why didn’t you get the desired results?

It seems easy. The marketing rep convinces you to try radio because you’ll be reaching thousands of potential customers, and once those people hear YOUR message…get ready for a business boost!

Or not.

Why didn’t it work? You wonder if the station scheduled your ads in lousy time slots. Maybe they didn’t run them at all! Relax. They did. The problem, more often than not, is a poorly-crafted message, so read on for a list of campaign killers.

IT WAS ALL ABOUT YOU!

You put your print ad or flyer on the radio and the script you approved was heavy on information and light on persuasion. Your name, location, hours, website, “Like us on Facebook” and (no, no, no!!!) your phone number.

Which opening line do you find more appealing?

A) “It’s the Spring Fling event at Susie’s Weight Loss Centre.”

And I should care because?????

B) “You can lose 20 pounds by Christmas.” (Followed by introducing Susie, how she can make that happen and why you should give her business a try).

Way better! Address a problem and solve it.

YOU’RE OPENING LINE DIDN’T GRAB THE LISTENER

Further to my point above, as the great radio advertising guru Dan O’Day says, the opening line is the commercial for the commercial.

“Hi, it’s Steve Jones from Wasaga Beach Toyota.”

So?

Listeners have much stronger bullshit detectors these days. It’s not the ’70s anymore with a limited choice of radio and TV stations. We all know Steve is going to spend the next 25 seconds bragging about his dealership and the best selection, best prices of the year, the lowest finance rates…

CHECK OUT SOME OF MY SCRIPTS HERE: JOHNNY’S MEDIA PORTFOLIO

Steve will hit us with the usual cliches and “ad speak.” We expect those and have no interest in the rest of ad.

I’ve long had a theory that car dealers don’t speak to the radio audience, they advertise to each other. The guy down the street has the best (see list above)? We’ve got the best and if we yell like a Monster Truck ad, the customers will choose us!

GARY WAS LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS, DON’T BE LIKE GARY

Listen to this ’90s gem from the suburbs of Philly. Prepare to be amazed.

Told ya!

What a gloriously awful mix of hard sell and hype! Yes, that was real and from what I can gather, Gary Barbera’s #1 Dodgeland frequently tortured folks in beautiful Roxborough with messages like that. Oh, and they were charged with upping the monthly payments without telling those customers who had bad credit, went through a divorce or whatever else that didn’t matter at that crazy car dealership.

Those in Radioland don’t enjoy being yelled at in the raunchy, over-the-top manner of Dodgeland. They tune out because they’re waiting for the next song, or the weather forecast.

YOU HAD A REP THAT LEFT THE CONTENT UP TO YOU

I’ve been in radio nearly 30 years and witnessed this routine many times. Rep makes the sale. Books it, schedules the spots. As for the copy?

“What do you want to say in your ad?”

Or…

“Here’s the email of our writer, send him some copy points.”

You don’t have time to come up with ideas so you recycle the same crap advertisers have used for decades. Maybe you suggest an opening line.

“How about, The leaves are falling and so are the prices at…”

Yikes.

Before we continue, how about some advertising fun from George Carlin?

 

It’s not your fault. Think about what sets your business apart. Tell the rep or writer what customers like about your business or services. Share your success stories.

You’re not selling flooring. You’re giving customers a more beautiful living room and allowing them to take greater pride in their home. Or increasing the resale value. Play that up!

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. Talk directly to the listener. As Dan O’Day says, enter a conversation they’re already having. Heating bill too high? They need a more energy-efficient furnace.
  2. Spark their imagination. Radio is, after all, theatre of the mind. Roy Williams, The Wizard of Ads, has made clients (and himself) rich by painting pictures with his words. Sound effects, music and production tricks are fine but what you say, and how you say it, will make the difference.
  3. Avoid filling your spots with Yellow Pages info or social media links. No one is going to “Like” you on Facebook until they’ve had a good experience with your products and services.

The fact is, the creative departments at many radio stations are staffed with non writers. People who graduated from broadcasting programs to become radio personalities or producers. Sure, copywriting was likely part of their training but it wasn’t why they chose radio as a career.

They took a job in creative as an entry point in the business. Or the company went through the dreaded “restructuring” process and jobs were combined. Copywriting became an extra chore for that aspiring morning show host.

I am a writer. I don’t retype copy info, I analyze it. What would I, as the consumer, find appealing?

It sure isn’t their claim of being “conveniently located.” Again, what the heck does that mean? What if I’m at the other end of town, or in another town?

THE BEST RADIO ADS ARE ABOUT THE LISTENER AND WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM.

I’ve been to many seminars, including those of Dan O’Day and Roy Williams, and the result is a combination of my unique style with O’Day’s “make the cash register ring” philosophy and the imaginative, storytelling approach of The Wizard of Ads.

I can help your business, or become a freelance addition to your creative team. Feel free to send me an email: johnnymaraca@rogers.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie dialog that’s Effed Up

My Father was offended by foul language.

He considered it low class and was fond of quoting Cole Porter’s lyrics from Anything Goes: Good authors too who once knew better words now only use four-letter words, writing prose.

Anything goes.

My Mother, who is less put off by cursing, spent the weekend at my place because her condo was being painted. We watched several movies on Kodi/Exodus and Netflix and it was on the latter that we found Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

Mom was familiar with Zac Efron. I mentioned Anna Kendrick had been Oscar nominated for Up in the Air so we settled on what critic Leonard Maltin might have called an “okay time waster.”

And every second line of dialog seemed to be, “We fucked up” or “fuck that shit.” Or some variation on those not-so-better words.

WE NEED A GOOD LINE HERE…AHH, SCREW IT

I’m no fuckin’ prude and, while I will cut the screenwriters some slack, it came across as very lazy script writing. Maybe Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (who penned the 2014 comedy Neighbors, with Efron and Seth Rogen) imagined the characters as illiterate lowlifes. That’s they way those people talk, I can hear Cohen and O’Brien saying.

And maybe Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was marketed to teens and millennials, and the writers and producers figured clever dialog and somewhat realistic characters weren’t necessary to get that demographic into theatres.

I have a feeling audiences of any age want more. Tell me I’m right. Please.

FOUL-MOUTHED, BALL-PLAYING KIDS

Four decades ago, I sat in the Elane Theatre to watch The Bad News Bears and, of course, many lines from that film would be considered very un-PC today. Shortstop Tanner Boyle complained the Bears were laughing stocks because all the team had were Jews…Hispanic word, N word and a booger eatin’ moron.

 

And, when Amanda Whurlitzer is introduced as the new team pitcher, Tanner repeats the same list and adds, “And now a girl!” Amanda shuts Tanner up by striking him out in batting practice.

 

ANNA, BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME

Mike & Dave and their dates had their moments, and the movie was amusing at times, thanks to the charisma of Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. My dear Mother has a female friend who often refers to her ex husband as a “mindfucker.” Mom sat through Borat, in a theatre, with an older, now deceased male friend. My nearly 91-year-old Mother also has Wedding Crashers on DVD (she likes Vince Vaughn).

Even so, her reaction to Dave, Mike and friends was, “Why do they have to swear so much?”

I didn’t have an answer for that. I curse more than I should, mostly out of anger and frustration (I’d love to chuck my work computer out the door and see it flattened by a steamroller). But expletives are most effective when used sparingly. They have more sting that way.

Every Quentin Tarantino film is loaded with fucks, motherfuckers and such, but those bad words punctuate entertaining monologues. It’s almost poetic.

“TOOTS, MEET TITS”

George Carlin and Richard Pryor turned the use of profanity into an art form and if you’re old enough, you can rhyme off the “7 words you can never say on television” (back in the ’70s, some are uttered today)…

shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

ALL I NEED ARE SOME TASTY WAVES AND A COOL BUZZ AND I’M FINE

Every generation becomes more permissive and less offended. I get that. I have zero problem with that. Even though Fast Times at Ridgemont High…

Phoebe Cates, pool scene…

Where was I? Oh yeah, Fast Times was pretty racy for 1982, but it would have been unimaginable for surfer dude Jeff Spiccoli to make jizz jokes. Today, semen is mentioned frequently in the routines of Amy Schumer and Whitney Cummings and is no longer a movie taboo.

Back to Mr. Cohen and O’Brien. There’s Something About Mary featured a memorable jizz scene, and The Hangover set new levels of  R-rated movie raunch but both had original stories and well-written characters.

The less than dynamic duo’s next film is The House, with Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and another Oscar nominated actor, Jeremy Renner. Guys, please give them more to say than “We fucked up.”

 

 

 

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