Formulaic radio commercials have me reaching for the off-switch: Bird Lovegod

I have a radio in my car and would probably listen to that radio if it wasn’t for the adverts. The absolute garbage adverts. Radio advertising is the coelacanth of Ad Land BC. Before Creativity.

It’s never evolved and never will.

The digital revolution that transformed life on Earth and ushered in a new era touched everything except radio adverts. They just keep on mooching on.

Occasionally we look up as one makes a particularly jarring noise, but no one’s given them serious consideration since War of the Worlds.

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Bird Lovegod has his sayBird Lovegod has his say
Bird Lovegod has his say

The guys in the industry are just glad there’s no way to measure the response. Why evolve when you’re already dead?

The format for a radio ad works like this. (Same as it always has.)

“First of all, you gotta grab their attention!” (Actually you don’t, they’re already listening to the radio. You have their attention. But you're about to lose it.)

“The way to do this is with a hilarious wacky voice!” (No, that's how to irritate people and alert them to the fact it’s a braindead advert.)

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“If you have the budget, use a celebrity!” (To really make sure people know it’s an advert and not something useful or enjoyable.)

“Then create a story that’ll get ‘em hooked.” (You already made them hate you, now they’re waiting for the advert to stop.)

Then turn the story into a promotion! (Yes I can see how that might have worked for a week in 1954 when the world was media ignorant and naive.)

“Then hit ‘em with the punchline!” (At least the audience now knows the drivel is coming to an end.)

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“Then if it’s a regulated product shrill the T&C at 10 words a second. POW! Amazing steaming pile of advert!”

I feel like writing to every company that radio advertises reassuring them that their media agency is ripping them off with cut and paste uncreative noise with all the modernity of a handful of rationbook spam.

I know some radio stations are reliant on ads, but can’t they also be a lot more creative and discerning?

How about something more useful, more subtle, conversations between companies that are paid promotions, openly so, but that also have value as content?

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Or just a production standard higher than a formulaic brain assault.

Do radio stations have their own in-house ad creation departments? Or do they just bank the money, take the media file and press play?

How about instead they have “This song is sponsored by XYZ company, this song is sponsored by Jim’s Tiles, this song is sponsored by Etc Etc".

Surely that would be a better format than the carefully chosen music, curated for a certain vibe and feel, being interrupted by another nerve jarring attack on common sense, reason, and human intelligence.

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If you are in radio advertising, how about you have one last hurrah, one last attempt to move into the contemporary age, or even beyond it, how about you bin the rules and formulas, do whatever you need to rewire your brain to do something, once, one thing, that actually deserves our attention.

Watch the Apple 1984 advert for inspiration. And crawl out of the primordial pit, open those gill lungs and breathe the fresh clear air of 2023. One last gasp.

(Terms and conditions apply. Always read the label. May cause hives.)

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