Thursday, 29 May 2008

"Difficult Is Worth Doing"

If you’re a programmer working in commercial radio anywhere in the world, how many times have you either sat in a focus group or listened to results of a research project where listeners are dissatisfied with the quality of commercials that your station runs?

Many listeners see commercials as a necessary evil and the ‘opportunity cost’ of listening to commercial radio, but few listeners extol the virtues of many commercials.

In a changing mediascape, broadcasters continue to face challenges to make commercials connect with their audience. In a world where ad avoidance is rife, how do you make the spots more compelling? Many radio programmers pretend there’s nothing you can do about what’s in the ad breaks… but imagine a world where you could influence that, perhaps by having stronger relationships with some key clients or advertisers?

The reason I mention this is tonight in the UK, Channel 4 and Honda are staging the first ever live advert on British TV. At 8:10pm, 19 skydivers will jump out of a plane over Madrid and attempt to spell out the word ‘Honda’. They have 3 minutes 20 seconds to do it. It ties in nicely with their “Difficult Is Worth Doing” strapline. This, to me, sounds quite difficult. It’s probably worth doing because I’m writing about Honda for the first time ever.

What a great way of getting people to actually engage with an ad. Make it a bit of engaging content with some jeopardy attached to it. It might work… it might not! Hopefully no skydivers will end up splatting into a Spanish field before the 9pm watershed. Afterwards… no problem…!!

Could this be adapted to the radio world. Perhaps… yes. Live ads on the radio were commonplace in the 50’s on US radio and were the early forerunner of sponsorships and promotions. But imagine working with an innovative client creating live radio spots that sat within a break, or were even the only spot in the break. Naturally, they’d have to sound like ads and also like the semi-suicidal Honda guys and girls, there would need to be a compelling bit of content to hook listeners in. But the theme of creating better, more memorable ads is something worth exploring more I feel. Otherwise we’ll continue to get listeners telling us the commercials are rubbish. And you know what… they’re right! Some of them are!! Here’s a little teaser film from the Honda guys as they practise heading towards the earth at 300mph head first! Nice!!

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