Being “Creative”, AND selling.

You walk up to a comedian and you say to him… “make me laugh!”. You almost make him crash his shopping cart. All he is doing is getting milk and food for the weekend. He’s thinking about the bill that he’s struggling to pay and the argument he’s just had with a friend. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t bop you on the nose.

As a “Creative” I get asked to write ads for clients. They quite often say… “I want something different” or “I want something that stands out”, or “I want something Creative”. The problem is that there is often nothing different, outstanding or creative about their business or the brief that they have given me. Actually what they should be asking for is something that WORKS. But that is at the briefing part of the process. I have always believed that great creative has to come out of a simple and compelling brief. I have heard many award winning radio commercials that are brilliantly produced, amazingly written, funny pieces or radio, that would have done nothing for the client.
It’s made me think again about being “creative”. Is writing radio advertising “art”? Then I saw this piece in the Radio Advertising for Business Group on Linkedin.

Brent Walker of Soundscapes

I have also been watching some videos by Brent Walker, and at first I reacted. In the first of his “Five Tennets of Great Radio”. He says “Entertain First…Sell Second”. The reason I reacted was because I didn’t read or listen properly. For years I have been fighting the crusade to make commercials that sell. My biggest issue being that so called great “creative” ads completely fail to sell to the listener. They’re often funny, entertaining, and so creative… that people forget what was being advertised and it wastes the clients money. I don’t disagree that commercials should be entertaining… of course they should. But that’s not my first line of thinking.

Having watched the videos, and I highly recommend you do, I just think that Brent is coming from the other side of the argument, to the same spot. Like I said, I have been exposed to lots of entertaining ads that fail to sell, he seems to have come across lots of “selly” ads that fail to entertain. In my humble opinion… Entertain THEN sell? Maybe, but don’t FORGET to sell because you become so wrapped up in the entertaining and showing what a clever writer you are!

I really think, as guardians of the advertiser’s dollar and their investment, we HAVE to think about return on investment. My usual arguments with sales people are over their clients doing crazy things to their commercials that make them less effective.

Look, I believe radio commercials CAN be funny, can be award winning, SHOULD be entertaining… and should always come from the position of being made as effective as possible.

I believe ALL commercials should be “direct response”. That is they should get customers for the client, get phone calls to a recruitment line, reduce road accidents or what ever the client’s aim is. The CREATIVITY is in communicating that in the best way. Tell me what you want me to do… give me a really good reason to do it… and engage me while you are telling me. You can BE artistic, you can be clever or funny, but make the commercial do the job it is supposed to do.

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