Silence Can Be Golden in Radio Ads

A barn.  Blue skies.  A horse running through the fields.

A great image just came to your mind reading those words, right?  But what color was the barn – red?  What color was the horse – brown, white, black, spotted? And while the horse was running through the fields under the blue skies, was it a winter day with snow on the ground or were there wild flowers growing.  Whatever your answer was, it doesn’t matter.  The image that came to mind was relevant to you and that is the power of radio commercials.

In previous posts, we’ve learned about the secret formula for great radio ads.  With the 2017 Radio Mercury Awards call for entry, we thought that we would look deep into some of the secrets of radio creative.  The Radio Mercury Awards, the only competition exclusively devoted to radio, was established in 1992 to encourage and reward the development of effective and creative radio commercials. Regardless of who you speak to who works on creating radio ads, they all share the same thought – ads on radio always tell a story and, if done well, it’s memorable!

When working on radio ads, here are some quotes that can help you remember what makes great radio.

  1. “Speak softly…” – While that may be a portion of President Roosevelt’s memorable phrase, it can also apply as advice if you want to get the listener’s attention. You could yell, and that might get the listener to remember you – remember that they don’t like you.
  2. “I get no respect.” – Yes, that’s a famous Rodney Dangerfield line and when he said it, it made people laugh. Humor doesn’t always work, and in fact it is difficult to pull off so you have to do it right.
  3. “You really like me!” – Sally, who wouldn’t like you? And like Sally Field, making sure that listeners like your commercials means that they will remember the message you send.
  4. “I have a dream.” – Those were the words of Martin Luther King.  Those words drive a strong and emotional reaction today as they did back in 1963.  Radio ads should always prompt an emotion – whether it is sad, funny, happy, etc.
  5. “Rome was not built in a day.” – Writing great radio takes time, patience, and work. Sometimes things that look good on paper may not sound
  6. “Tried and true.” – Just because it’s been used before doesn’t mean it works. Keep away from clichés.
  7. “If you build it, they will come.” – Putting together a script for a great radio ad is good but why stop there? Make it great by putting just as much work into producing it as you did creating it.  You can’t fake the sound of someone running when creating a sneaker commercial.  It’s not believable and they won’t buy the product.  Now, have someone really run while speaking.  It takes it to a whole new level.

What is the most powerful use of sound?  Silence.  Sometimes the most effective sound is no sound at all.  It causes the listener to “lean in” and really hear the message.  When it comes to radio creative, silence really can be golden.

There are many more tips that we’ve compiled from some of radio’s best creative minds.  Want to know more? Just reach out and Ask RAB.  Have some tips of your own? Share the wealth!

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