Delighting in bad radio advertising a ‘joyful’ part of my daily commute.
July 25, 2013
Driving home from work I like to roll old school, engaging in the dad-like behavior (all too rare for me) of listening to news and sports on the radio. Can you believe it? AM radio! That means a ton of commercials, which I also listen too. Most of them, by any creative definition, are terrible. Still, I listen. There’s pleasure in the pain –sort of like when the dentist cleans your teeth. Allow me to poke fun at a few the spots I’ve heard recently. Low hanging fruit I know. But one can’t always hang out in the deep end of the pool.
Toyota is a huge brand. Yet this particular campaign sounds like fodder from the local dealership. (Likely what I’m hearing is part of a regional campaign, created by a smaller, specialty shop.) Anyway, the campaign is titled “True Story.” In the various commercials a chipper announcer pimps some aspect of a given vehicle: miles per gallon, low price, etc. He or she bookends her spiel with the odd exclamation: “True Story!” Though I understand the phrase it never quite fits in the creative. Frankly, it comes out of nowhere. Worse, it implies the possibility that we are being lied to. Getting a great deal on a Toyota should not have to be qualified. The brand is known for value. Blurting “True Story!” is not only clunky it’s also off brand.
Close your eyes and it’s just like the radio. Bad. True story!
I’ve been hearing this spot for a learning center in the Bay area, whose name I can’t recall. What I do remember is the spot’s urgent claim (delivered in the manner of a serious newscaster) that “research has proven kids forget up to 50% of what they’ve learned in school during summer vacation!” Research? All I need to do is look at the letters my girls are sending me from camp. By the fifth letter they are not even spelling the word “the” correctly. They may be scaring a few moms with this “urgent report” but not me. Summer is stupid time for kids. That’s why it’s so much fun.
And then there’s Shane Co Jewelers and their ubiquitous slogan: “You’ve got a friend in the diamond business.” These radio ads, featuring the curmudgeonly voice of CEO, Tom Shane are so love-hated they (he) have been mocked on South Park. True Story! (That, my friends, is a comedy 360.)
According to Wikipedia, “The company states the radio advertisements are the longest-running continuous campaign in the history of the medium of radio.” I find that hard to believe. Regardless, I gleefully look forward to hearing Uncle Tom tell me about his trips to Thailand or wherever he “handpicks only the best diamonds with the finest sparkle.” What’s especially remarkable is how timely Shane Co is with their messaging. In June, for example, there was a specific spot for Father’s day and Graduation day and wedding engagements. Tom Shane has a diamond (and a pitch) for every month of the year. What Tom likely never said was that because of the severity of the holiday season in 2009 the company had to file for bankruptcy. On the other hand maybe he did. “We’re bankrupt so now is the perfect time to choose a sparkly new diamond!”
Ah, drive time. Even in the most wired town on the planet we can still delight in good, old-fashioned crap… on the radio!