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06 Oct

When Creativity Takes Over

“I heard this brilliant ad on the radio this morning. Really funny. I was killing myself laughing in the car.”

“Who was it for?”

“I don’t know.”

We’ve had (and heard) this conversation many times over the years here at Kalua. And it’s something we often find coming up when clients ask us to review previous creative that hasn’t worked. We call it the “Creative-Take-Over” effect.

Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE creative radio ads. An engaging piece of audio to attract a listener to a client’s message is what we’ve built our reputation on. Whether it has us rolling around the studio in fits of laughter or bawling our eyes out at our desks in the office or just raises eyebrows with a “ooh that was a clever bit of writing”… however creativity manifests itself, we’re fans of it.

But there has to be a balance. If we’re going to go down the creative treatment route for a radio campaign, then the creativity has to relate to the product and not become too much of a distraction. The message must remain clear.

We’ve heard lots of radio commercials on air recently and agreed that they’re an entertaining commercial, and clearly well written, well produced, with good casting. The problem is that the messages are getting lost within the creativity. Off the back of any radio campaign, advertisers need to see results. They need their radio campaigns to be effective and deliver for them. And the ugly truth us, an advertiser will have much more of a focus on whether a radio campaign works, rather than how creative it’s sounding.

Of course, the two are most effective when connected… great creative elements that are ‘on message’, leading into a clear and simple message that links back to the creative. So with this in mind, when we’re working on radio campaigns we often ask ourselves during the concept stage: “Will this treatment enhance the overall effectiveness of this commercial for the listener?” If the answer is yes, then great, we can keep developing the concept, knowing that the idea itself is making the commercial work harder. But if the answer is no – or even just not a clear ‘yes’ – then it’s an odds-on bet that the idea will end up becoming a distraction to the audience.

However creative you’re going to be, you have to keep on message.

On the back of this thinking, we’ve always found it a little frustrating that there are many awards to celebrate great creativity in radio advertising (we currently hold 14 of them). But there are no awards for the “most effective radio commercial” or the “best results of a radio advertising campaign”. And yet, it is the effectiveness, or the results, on which the success of any radio campaign is judged.

There’s a time and a place for aliens playing the banjo in a radio campaign, so long as you’re trying to sell banjos.

Or aliens.

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