Radio is a powerful medium. Unless you have your ears plugged, it’s hard to ignore, even if you just have it on in the background. Used properly, it gets into the listener’s head where it becomes “the theatre of the mind”, leaving lasting impressions there.
Unfortunately, many, or dare I say even most, marketers don’t understand how to use radio, and they therefore abuse it. This medium is terrible for conveying a lot of information in a short time. But what’s happened in the course of my career is that radio commercial lengths have become shorter (30 seconds is typical), and the number of selling points and contact details marketers want to convey has increased.
This means that many radio spots end up being hastily-read lists which are hard to remember. There’s no attempt to create that memorable theatre in the head.
I think radio commercials are good for communicating one simple message – especially if you’re going to book slots of only 30 seconds. They’re good for raising brand awareness, and getting listeners to do something – provided it’s something simple.
I’ve written lots of radio scripts, including some (e.g. for Dyson) that were translated and produced for foreign markets. Here are just a few of the commercials made from my scripts.