Poo jokes and the lack of asshole-ery is the sweet spot when it comes to radio ads, quipped Matt Dickson, gold siren winner and creative solutions officer for radio network Southern Cross Austereo.
Dickson was giving a workshop at the National Radio Conference on the Gold Coast last Friday on ‘how to not make wallpaper’ when it comes to radio ads.
Aside from a number of hot tips, detailed further below, if a brand manages to sneak in a crafty faecal farce in a 30 second radio ad while keeping it on message, gold.
“I’m serious when I say, never underestimate the power of a poo joke,” he said.
It’s Dickson’s belief that the majority of people will switch over to another radio station if they encounter a rubbish ad.
The general rule of thumb for radio, according to Dickson, is to have around 75 words in a 30 second ad, which by his rough calculations, would end up being around 600 words per a four minute ad break.
“Now you blast someone over four minutes…and ask then to remember any of it…” he said, trailing off.
Bringing psychology into the mix, Dickson told the room how emotional response to a brand will always overrule the information offered. So when creating ads he goes down the path of making the brand likeable.
For example, one client Golden Eggs, came to Dickson for help. Explaining he wouldn’t be able to make people physically go buy eggs, he could instead make the brand likeable and stick in people’s minds when they were shopping in the egg aisle.
Below are Dickson’s top tips for not creating wallpaper.
Don’t use a script
Too often, Dickson said he hears people nattering away, wondering how they can make something seem unscripted. “Just don’t use a script,” he said. “I would have thought that was obvious.” In the Golden Egg example above, Dickson explained how that one was unscripted. It may have produced many takes, but the final product was golden.
Don’t use a normal voiceover
Dickson often recruits some of his friends to be involved in ads. He said it can give it more authenticity, and if it’s not in a studio will sound less forced.
Ads don’t have to sound like ads
“I’ve put ideas in front of clients before who’ve said ‘it doesn’t really seem like an ad’. But as long as people are buying whatever it is you’re selling, then surely I’ve done my job?” Ads don’t have to look a certain way to be successful.
Be real if you can
Dickson is a massive fan of realism. This point ties in with the voiceover one, in using external noises to make the ad sound less forced. The example Dickson played in the workshop was of a car dealership man taking a lie-detector test. It was a real lie-detector and someone was clearly vacuuming in the background – and it was these noises and realness that really helped the ad.
Have some relevant cleverness
The ad Dickson played created a techno mix of people joining conference calls. While only having the brand name said at the end, the ad was reminiscent of anyone who’s tried to join a conference call and had issues.
Take out anything that can be assumed
Seems a given, but don’t put in things like numbers, prices etc if they’re not needed. Don’t waste precious ad time with superfluous details.
Apply the ‘who gives a shit’ test
Ask yourself who actually cares about what you’re selling, and why they might care, if they do.
Dickson isn’t a fan of researching before creating. While many marketers are all about the data and insights, Dickson instead reckons research is “bullshit” as people will tell you anything.
Give it a random twist
Not a fan of rules, Dickson said when you’re finished with the promo or whatever it is the brand is plugging, put in something random.
In the example Dickson provided, he snuck in a cheeky poo joke.
“It’s an entertainment medium,” lamented Dickson, so have some fun with it!