Saturday, August 29, 2009

Radio Ga Ga, Radio Goo Goo

Queen got it right when they said ‘All we hear is Radio ga ga, Radio goo goo, Radio blah blah’. And that becomes mostly evident in the commercial breaks on the radio these days. The poor excuses for advertisements that are being aired make me nauseous sometimes…they are unbearable and worst of all, aired 10 times every half hour. Its unnecessary torture when you have actually tuned in for some entertainment.

The basic premise of advertisement rests on the concept of grabbing attention. Making it stick comes into the picture of you have got the brain to respond in the first place. And last comes the concept of reinforcement. If you have missed the first step, you’ve lost it.

In that light, radio ads that go the following way repel me –

Mother: Hi Beta! It’s so good to see you! It’s been almost six months! How’s college?

Daughter: Blah Blah Blah

I am not listening anymore because the lady is supposedly talking to her OWN daughter…not the next door neighbour’s! How’s College…I mean really? She doesn’t have a cell-phone and you don’t call her every evening to ask what she ate for lunch?? And I don’t care how long it has been (it’s been six months…God!)…get to the point! They’ve lost me right there…

The problem with that ad is that in the first 3 seconds when they do have the audience’s attention they do neither of these – generate enough curiosity or give away the focus of the ad. And at least one of them is necessary to keep the audience listening till the end. And in a radio ad where there is no visual medium to reinforce the message, the attention-grab becomes all the more fundamental.

There’s the new one for Emirates:

Air Hostess: Would you like some chocolates Sir?

Guy 1: My mamma always said life is like a box of chocolates.

Air Hostess: How would you like your drink Sir?

Guy 2: Shaken, not stirred

So on and so forth.

The ad talks about the in-flight entertainment features of Emirates. Now, it’s a mass medium ad but it has been written with the assumption that majority of the audience relates to Western movies to the point of knowing immortalized dialogues and which characters uttered them (I am still thinking if it is being aired only on Radio Indigo and hence the International Music-Western Movies connection made sense to the ad-creators). Anyway, if the guy listening to the ad does not get it, he has to wait till the very last line (a whole 30-40 seconds almost) to know what is being talked about. Needless to say his attention has wandered off long ago. The ad is nice in concept but it may not click at all times. For me, although I get the context, what kills this ad for me is the accents (mimicry)…except for Forrest Gump to a marginal extent they haven’t got it right…and that disgusts me.

Any kind of fake accent disgusts me. Throw that into an advert and you have essentially killed it for me. Play it 4 times in 15 minutes then you are actually repelling me…I will probably never go close to that product unless it is like Paracetamol with me running a 103.

In the Fake Accent list, the award goes to Signature Style accessories quiz (the other ads for the same client with some Sameer guy and his partner celebrating his return to India were in fact decent but completely out of context other than the mention of Paris and French). Now this quiz is hosted by some Woman With Fake French Accent who starts off with a terribly delivered Bon Jour (fit to in fact do the opposite of what the wish intends), throws in some more French before switching to English with a heavy dash of French accent that keeps slipping off despite her effort to hold it up. When she says ‘Heeare gooes’ and ‘signaturestyle dot eeean’ (for I feel like strangulating her. Get the accents right or else shut up. Stop disgusting people with a cheap substitute.

Amidst all that trash there certainly have been some good ads too in the recent times. One that I really liked was for the Pinky Diva Nights at the Blue Bar, Taj Westend.

The ad opens with a very clichéd ‘Honey I’m home!’ And while for those 2 seconds they have you thinking that it is just another run-of-the-mill commercial they surprise you with no answer to that call…any wandering attention comes back in anticipation of an answer when the man calls again – ‘Honey?’ Then there is a guy calling out to his sister and knocking on the door hard…there is a phone ringing going unanswered…and there is never any answer. Towards the very end an answering machine introduces a female voice saying ‘Not home right now, leave a message’ before they kick in with the announcement for Pinky Diva nights.

There is something about unanswered shout-outs, calls and knocks that generates curiosity, panic, anticipation and related emotions very fast. That fact has been utilized very well in the afore-mentioned ad.

My recent favourite is the Britannia Nutrichoice radio campaign created by Lintas. I just loved it…the concept of ‘Samosa Singh’ and ‘Babloo Burger’ and the way they pitch their campaign, the authentic Indian accents and the local flavour that was heavily cashed in on…the entertainment value…they got most things right and even had me looking forward to hearing them over again. They both get the attention and give away the context (food) in the first 5 seconds and yet one wants to hear where they take it from there. They get the accents right. They make you laugh and hence remember the ad. If you care enough, sample them below…hilarious…

Samosa Singh

Babloo Burger

This one was just brilliant and more of such work will be welcome on the soundwaves. Creating an out-and-out sound ad and yet have it make an impact is a difficult thing to achieve given the lack of the visual connect and also the fact that the audience is usually engaged in doing something else while the radio blares in the background – driving, cooking, cleaning…one has to pull them out of that and make them listen to what one has to say. But some of the players in the field prove time and again that it is very much possible. They understand the medium and work with what they have. They are good and that’s why they probably are at the top of their field.

They are the ones who get the goo goo and ga ga out of the Radio…much to my relief.

9 Thinkers Pondered:

Smita said...

Oh I totally agree with you!!!!

The ads on radio sucks big time. In fact in many a radio station it is more of ads and less songs!!!

Anupama said...

Hey Smita!

Yeah I have noticed that too...more ads and less that respect this Radio Indigo is marginally better...but yeah the quality of ads is no different!...thanks for the comment and have a good week ahead :)

kedar said...

hey, check this out.

scroll half way down the page and click on the speaker icon next to lowe bangalore's entry.

eye-in-sty-in said...

one ting I find irritating about radio is - when they air the ads, the volume shoots up drastically! Before you are done listening to the end of a song, the announcer chips in unceremoniously! Its highly irritating and makes you wanna change the channel...

Anupama said...

Hey Kedar!

The link refuses to play...I tried yesterday as well as today...anywhere else I can sample the work?

And thanks for the comment :)

Hey Spike!

And what about when they play a song only halfway through before the radio channel's jingle comes in and you are like - what happened to the second stanza?? God!

Thanks for the comment :)

kedar said...

ok, try this. i've put it on yousendit and they warn me the file will self-destruct in 7 days. their IT guy must be watching a lot of those movies.

Anupama said...

Hey Kedar!

Thanks for putting the file up :) . Quite an innovative bunch of soundbites!...I wish I could hear the other entries as well but there is some problem...

I still love the Nutrichoice ads over these though :) . I think they are crisper, what do you think?

mentalie said...

hi anupama! i just started reading you blog...and you are right, as queen was :) radio sucks these days and advertising as a whole seems to have cracked the formula for repelling viewers or else anesthetizing their brains!

Anupama said...

Hey Mentalie!

Welcome to this space :) I'm really kicked that you visited and left a comment coz I really like your blog and have been catching up on it...

For some reason, adverts these days seem to be missing any one of the following - punch, stick-factor, class, sense etc. and that makes them a pain to put up with...and on the radio, add to that RJs who pronounce 'swadesi' as 'swaa-desi' I could just about scream!

Thanks for the comment :)