Having successfully hosted the mother of all Conferences, RadioWorks 2011 – an amazing and rare opportunity where a host of the industry’s smartest thinkers got to soak up a whole day of radio, discussing what works, what doesn’t and why, we were suitably thrilled when some of the key speakers agreed to be a part of this publication. Here are just some of the notable takeouts.
Does radio have a creative problem? It’s an age-old debate. To address this, and other radio creative conundrums we thought only the best and brightest would do. Ladies and gentlemen, the only man on the planet with both D&AD Yellow and Black Pencils for radio, Tony Hertz…
It was clear from the onset that if there was one key takeout Radio Specialist Tony Hertz wanted delegates to leave with; it was that radio is less limiting and less limited; “Although the 30 second ad has been the bread and butter of many a station and agency, it’s not the be all and end all of radio advertising”, he said.
Underpinned by his worldwide expertise, garnered from judging festivals and conducting creative workshops in 6 continents, he noted that the challenge of creativity in radio advertising is a most obvious and universal truism;
“So what’s the problem? Are radio ads really that bad? I don’t think so. I think the problem is that radio hasn’t kept pace. The ads we’re hearing today are the same as those from yesteryear. There’s simply no breakthrough”, he says.
Summing up on some of the barriers to a productive creative process, Hertz highlighted the fact that our marketing, communication and advertising world has become more and more visual;
“We are a visual industry. These days Creatives are not taught the skills of writing and producing radio – they are children of the MAC age. In the past copywriters wrote copy and handed it to Art directors. Sadly, it’s now a case of ‘here are the visuals – fit some copy around them’. Copywriters have become the new Art Directors”.
Hertz also cited some pitfalls to lacklustre radio creative by pointing out that the creative industry is obsessed with refining and polishing things way beyond what they require, in order to win awards. This was complemented by practical examples to addressing the challenges.
“The radio industry has sold itself for years as the fast and cheap medium. Newsflash! Advertising agencies don’t like anything that’s cheap and fast. It’s also an alarming reality that agencies don’t seem to ‘get’ how people listen to the radio. They listen for company, to feel good. Listeners tune in for the human contact, the stuff that surrounds the music, the relationship. They listen habitually and have a portfolio of stations that they listen to everyday at the same time – forever.
“So how do advertisers talk to these people? As if they’re not very intelligent. We expect them to take in web addresses, telephone numbers etc. It doesn’t do much for the trusted ‘friend’ thing. You can kill a morning show which a DJ has worked 3 hours to build, with bad advertising. Don’t lose out on an amazing opportunity to capitalise on radio’s unique capacity to engage emotions and its power to evoke personal, visual images. The point, after all is not to get bogged down with info, but rather focus on an idea”, he adds.
It’s also worth noting that many of the Creative heads gathered at RadioWorks 2011 flocked to, and thoroughly enjoyed Tony Hertz’ afternoon stream, entitled Rad4AD – Radio for Art Directors, where he fleshed out more of these pearls of wisdom;
Tony Hertz’ Top secrets to writing great spots:
- Find the feeling. Think about the person you’re talking to: one ad = one message.
- There is a growing amount of research showing that emotional sells better than rational or informational based models. There’s nothing wrong with price advertising, but leading with price is not good.
- How long should a commercial be? Write the commercial, rewrite it, get it right, act it out loud, that’s how long as it needs to be.
- Media agencies are lazy. They worship at the altar of frequency. How many spots you get per schedule doesn’t matter – it’s what gets across. Media and creative should be a partnership. The Creative person shouldn’t have to sell the spot to the media person.