The Truth About Broadcast Creative


The vast majority of business owners are absolutely unqualified to write effective broadcast scripts. But once they realize their account executive is no more knowledgeable about the creative process than they are, they wind up telling us what needs to be in the copy. The salesperson dutifully writes down what the client tells him and hands it in to the production director. The over-worked production staff does the best they can with the garbage we give them and we wind up casting bad bait to our sea of listeners or viewers. Then when the client realizes that the campaign isn’t working they cancel, blaming not the bad bait but the lake they’re fishing on, which happens to be your station.

Bad creative is one of the biggest reasons local clients cancel and it is high time for the broadcast community take back the driver’s seat in this critical area.

Local direct clients are under siege from national competitors and they desperately need our help in breaking through commercial clutter without having to compromise price. As a broadcast seller or manager, the onus is on you to become an expert in the difference between good and bad advertising. Once you learn the simple rules for good advertising, the client will see that your “prescription” for his success is better than his own. At that point the client will surrender and let you drive the creative bus.

The object in effective script writing is simple. To help your client identify and solve a listener’s or viewer’s problem in as easy a way as possible. To do this, simply remember these four rules to good creative.

1. Help the client come up with an identifiable difference or I.D. In other words, what makes your client’s business different from his competitors, in language your audience would absolutely understand. For a restaurant it could be that they’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. An Austin, Texas deli called Katz’s uses this I.D. “Katz’s never Kloses.”

2. Come up with an emotional headline that will reach deeply into the hearts and minds of your audience. We know now that people respond emotionally from the heart way before they respond to facts and figures banged at the head. Effective emotions vary. Sometimes fear is the best motivator. Maybe disgust. A gym used this headline: “Imagine your mother or father in a Speedo. Because that’s where you’re heading.”

3. Solve a viewer or listener’s problem. Talk benefits and results without cliches. Cliches, overused phrases or expressions that mean nothing like, “family owned and operated” or, “best service in town,” eat up valuable air time. Use the “Best Friend Test” as you read the copy out loud. If you wouldn’t say those exact same words to your best friend then your copy is probably cliché. Identify and solve listener or viewer problems in easy to understand language with no cliches.

4. Make sure the call to action is crystal clear. The call to action, what you want the listener or viewer to do, should be the very last line in the script. Don’t obscure your call to action with some trite slogan. Burn it in so that people remember your client’s location or phone number or web address. Don’t use more than one call to action if you can possibly help it. Make it easy for your audience to do business with your client.

If you follow these simple rules you have a great spot. If you don’t follow the rules, you’ll wind up with a spot that looks like and sounds like the other thousands upon thousands of other spots that don’t work.

(source: Paul Weyland