Pathetic radio ads

14 Mar,2012

By Anil Thakraney


OKAY, so I have ‘upgraded’ to 94.3 Radio One and have chucked all my CDs into the Arabian Sea. Spending time in the car, despite Mumbai’s
horrendous traffic conditions, has become fun once again. And I must say the RJs don’t ramble much, and the music collection is superb. A good mix
of new stuff and retro. So far so good.


The only problem is the bloody ads. Most of them are sick, boring and nerve wrecking to hear. And each ad enjoys high frequency because radio is
an inexpensive medium. Imagine what a downer it is to listen to rubbish in the middle of Cold Play and U2. This is like a tapori waiter on duty at the
Zodiac Grille. Doesn’t work. So who’s at fault here, can we blame the radio station? Ideally, 94.3 should be picky about the sort of ads they
broadcast, so that the overall ambience of the station doesn’t get screwed. They cannot disown the ads completely. But private FM radio stations
are bleeding in India, so we really can’t blame them for lapping up whatever ads they can get their hands on. They have to survive, no? So I guess
the station can be forgiven.


What cannot be forgiven is the sad quality of the radio ads. I cannot understand why, after all these years, agency creative directors don’t get this
fantastic medium. At a very low cost, one can produce award winning work in this space. With no dependence on visuals, the listeners’ imagination
can be fired, they can be left to fit in their own images. And how very tantalizing that can be! I suspect the key reason radio advertising continues
to languish is that the entire attention of the ad agencies is focused on TV commercials. And perhaps radio spots are still being written by bored
copy trainees, who must be treating it as a chore rather than as a creative challenge.


Come on, dear Creative Directors. It’s a fab medium and a huge opportunity. Don’t waste it. And I would also appeal to the clients not to accept
garbage scripts. They must put pressure on their agencies to come up with sparkling radio spots. Even if the spots cost less, money is being spent
on them, so they better be paisa vasool. If the brand managers quietly accept mediocrity, then that’s what will be dished
out to them.


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