These radio ad formats need to DIE – by Ryan Ghidoni



Ryan Ghidoni

By Ryan Ghidoni

PSR Contributor


Thursday June 16th, 2016



Audio Active Advertising – Episode 22: These radio ad formats need to Die!


We are all guilty of using them.


Either we don’t have time for a good idea OR the client is insisting we use them.


They will undermine the chance of the ad finding an audience.


They will only contribute to the clutter that everyone wants to cut through.


They are…




This is by no means a complete list.


In this first AD SLAP, I intend to examine the three formats I despise the most and detail the following:


Why people want to use it?


Why is it likely to fail?


When is it at its worst?


AND…What could possibly make it work?


So let us begin:


The classic “Stupid and Smart”: This is where a dumb person who has a problem runs into a smart person who just happens to be an expert on the product that will solve the dumb guy’s problem.




Why people want to use it? Because it’s easy. You barely have to think. You just copy the info from the client’s email and paste it right into the dialogue. It’s also easier to copy an old format instead of thinking of something original…and this one is the oldest. I’m pretty sure that the very first radio ad was a “stupid and smart”.


Why is it likely to fail? Because the ad is going to sound…well…like an ad. It’s going to sound fake.


When is it at its worst? When the smart guy says the client’s name seven times and mentions things about the product that no real person would ever know, say or remember. “And the best thing about Smith and Hagelstein Insurance is that they can show you how to incorporate a business continuity plan into your emergency preparedness. They’ll prepare you for tomorrow…today…at Smith and Hagelstein Insurance.” Dialogue needs to sound like a genuine conversation. Keep the sell lines to the announcer tag.  


What could possibly make it work? If you could keep the dialogue as realistic as possible and you had voices who could actually perform the roles in a convincing manner…then you might be able to pull off a “stupid and smart” without it feeling like a tired old nag stumbling out of the gate.


The Hard Sell Puker: These are loud and fast with one or two announcers barfing information into your ear.

Image of strict boss shouting at businesswoman through loudspeaker so loudly that her hair being blown by strong wind
Image of strict boss shouting at businesswoman through loudspeaker so loudly that her hair being blown by strong wind


Why people want to use it? Because they believe, like a three-year-old, the only way to get attention is to be the loudest most obnoxious person in the room AND it allows them to cram 45 seconds of info into a 30 second ad. What a deal!


Why is it likely to fail? Think of your ad as a sales person representing your business. How well would a sales person do if they shouted at all their prospects? People have trained themselves their whole life to block out and avoid obnoxious people. Plus, if you talk faster than conversational pace…people can’t keep up.


When is it at its worst? When the shouting, fast talking announcer repeats things. “And if you act now you’ll get forty percent off! FORTY PERCENT OFF!!!!!” How ‘bout you don’t repeat things and maybe you could slow down and say things once…in a way I can comprehend.


What could possibly make it work? Use it for a product where you wouldn’t expect it. A dentist, a day care, or a church. I once used it for a fundraiser for my son’s preschool. The mismatch can be enough to grab the listener’s attention.


The Shopping List Ad: The ad is simply an eight to ten item list of information the business wants to communicate.




Why people want to use it? This is how they build their print ads. Print ad readers can selectively choose what to focus on. Unfortunately, radio ad listeners are along for the whole ride. Clients also like this format because they feel like they’ve accomplished all eight of their advertising goals with one ad.




Why is it likely to fail? By the time you get to item number five, you’ve forgotten one through four. People can’t ingest all that info in 30 seconds. Say one thing well and use the 30 seconds to give it meaning, demonstrate the results, and make it memorable.


When is it at its worst? When the list is mostly numbers. Car ads with price points, finance terms and lease rates for three or more vehicles. Your ads need to inspire images in the listener’s mind and price points simply don’t create images of the product.


What could possibly make it work? Rhythm and repetition. It made people remember this list…two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. If you can turn your list into an ear worm…you have more than a chance of being memorable. BUT stay consistent and hammer the same rhythmic list for the long haul. The reason you can’t remember all the lucky charms is because they kept adding ones like purple horseshoes, rainbows, balloons and hourglasses. Who wants glass in their cereal?


If you want to call yourself a CREATIVE writer…avoid the old tired ad formats and CREATE something new…even if it’s a twist on the old. Your clients will get a more effective ad and you will actually find your job a lot more rewarding.


The next time I do an AD SLAP, I want to lay an open hand on quiz show ads and ads that try to ride an expired fad after everyone is sick of it. I really enjoy these types of ads…. NOT! Until next time…Party on Wayne…Party on Garth.


Want an original approach to delivering your message? Contact Audio Active Advertising today.



Ryan Ghidoni is an 18-year veteran of radio advertising and has worked with some of the most creative sales reps, writers, producers and voice talent in the business.

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