I wish I had a dime for every dollar’s worth of mediocre radio advertising that will pollute the air waves in 2014. Not “bad” radio advertising, because some of that makes a lasting impression and delivers a message. I’m talking about the bland, soundalike pablum that leaves listeners uninformed and uninspired.
“Copy Smart” is one of the great two-word adages I’ve come to embrace as an advertising copywriter. Tried-and-true formulas (problem-solution-irresistible offer) and proven tactics (charming British announcers) have sold billions in potions, lotions and services.
It took me years to surrender and accept that it was OK to Copy Smart and not be thought of as an untalented copycat. But it took many failed campaigns of trying to be different for the sake of being different to bring me around to the not only accepted – but encouraged practice of modeling success after a campaign someone else invested the blood, sweat and media dollars to perfect.
Likewise, an inspired spark of creative storytelling can be a game-changer and redefine a category. Selling insurance was, for decades, a somber affair in a very serious category. Talking geckos and socially-oppressed cavemen forever changed the landscape.
But the ambitious copywriter and advertiser would both be wise to resist creativity for creativty’s sake. A recent study showed that fully 80% of Super Bowl advertisers did not experience an impact in sales, despite ponying up $4 Million each for 30 seconds of Super Sunday fame and glory.
I’ve adopted the mindset to never sacrifice results for the sake of creativity. And that’s not to say the two can’t peacefully (or radically) coexist. But Copy Smart or Be Creative with firm resolve to accomplish an objective.
Marketing dollars are too precious to fund uninspired mediocrity.