27 Apr

Does “Award-Winning” mean “a great radio commercial”?

“What makes a great radio ad?” It’s a question we are often asked here at Kalua. “What do you consider to be a truly great radio commercial?” It’s a simple question to ask. Answering, however, it is a little more difficult.  Because how do we measure “great”? What do we mean by the term “great”?

There was a time when to win an industry award for creativity was the goal of every advertising copywriter and producer in the land. At that time, creativity itself was the unit for measuring how good an ad was. If listeners responded with “Ooh that’s clever, that’s very clever” it was job done. Time to retire.

Things are different now, thank goodness. How “great” a radio campaign is, is judged on its effectiveness, and rightly so. It might well be the most creative, out there, “wacky”, unusual – call it what you want – concept in the world, but if it doesn’t deliver results, it isn’t “great” in the least.

It all boils down to the starting point. Often, historically, the creative idea itself was the place to begin. But, of course, that’s completely back to front. We really have to start by asking “what is the purpose of this radio campaign?” We know that advertising is all about finding the simplest way to persuade someone to act. And like any quest for simplicity, it can, ironically, be very difficult! It requires a process that is all about delivering a result, understanding what it is that the words in a script have to do to another human being’s heart and mind. And so the starting point has to be the end. We must begin with the outcome, as it were. And whilst starting with the outcome may well lead to something wonderfully creative and worthy of a piece of silver wear, it equally might lead to the simplest, clearest idea ever.

The big test is this: however the “creative” treatment arrives at the solution, the most important thing we can do when working on radio campaigns is to check that what we have produced is actually a solution. That it is an answer to the problem that we have been asked to solve.

So what makes a great radio commercial? Not one that cleans up at glitzy ceremonies. But one that works, delivers the right results, solves the problem. And if, by starting with the outcome and working backwards, we end up with badgers flying planes, then even better. It might even be an award-winner after all….

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