by Dan O'Day on July 28, 2014

This is the kind of “free” offer your radio advertising clients should be making.

fast food advertising


This oversized, full color postcard arrived in the mail.

One side (shown) makes the offer in very clear terms:

No Strings Attached

Yeah, right. I know to look for the “fine print.” Probably it’s “with purchase of any large drink and order of fries.”

And “at participating locations only,” “only between 2PM and 4PM.”

Oh. The fine print says:

“No purchase necessary!”

“May be redeemed whenever you’re hungry.” (What a great bit of ad copywriting!)

“Available at any Hook Burger.”


Whenever I want? Whatever location I want? I don’t have to buy anything else?

They Use the Reverse of the Card, Too.

Whenever you see a postcard mailer or flyer that uses only one side of the paper stock, you’re seeing an advertiser who doesn’t know how to use direct mail.

As Dan Kennedy says, “Paper is expensive. Ink is cheap.” If you’ve got that additional real estate, use it.

The reverse of the card:

* Repeats the offer in a big headline

* Has enticing photos of their burgers as well as a few other items (while the front shows only the burger that’s being offered for free)

* Gives the address of the Hook Burger location closest to me (directly my eyes to it with a bold headline)

* Includes an easy to read street map, pinpointing the location for me.

* Contains legal fine print (expiration date — which is more than 60 days away; one postcard per customer; photocopies cannot be accepted).

But check out the first 2 words of the “legal fine print”:

“Includes cheese.”

Damn, somebody is on the ball at Hook Burger. They used the required “legal disclaimer” to make the offer more appealing.

Not All of Your Radio Clients Should Make “Free” Offers.

I’ve never heard of this company. Maybe it’s brand new; maybe it’s new to my geographic area.

But it’s new to me, and the goal of this campaign is to get me to eat one of their burgers (and presumably, enjoy it enough that I’ll return in the future to buy more).

They don’t cheapen (or complete negate) the offer by adding all kinds of limitations to it.

They also know a hefty percentage of people who come in for the free burger also will buy a soda (their highest margin item) and some french fries.

They have a single goal: Get people to sample their hamburgers.

I don’t (yet) know how good their food is. But whoever’s handling their marketing appears to be smarter than the average fast food advertising bear.

If you’re an account executive, don’t let your advertising clients run radio commercials that pretend to offer a gift but in reality are lame offers in an ineffectual disguise.



by Dan O'Day on July 25, 2014

Authorities in Roswell, New Mexico, are using radio advertising to try to stop a serial arsonist.

Giving the offer they are making, a radio campaign just might do the job for them.

The acts of arson are a prominent topic of conversation in Roswell. As I’ve long pointed out, “Radio advertising is word-of-mouth that you control.”

Here is the commercial that currently is airing:

In case you’re unable to hear the audio, here’s the commercial copy.

ANNOUNCER: Roswell, it’s time to get an arsonist off the streets. Here’s Steve Wolf with Crime Stoppers.

STEVE: We want to catch whoever’s doing this arson. There are numerous cases so far, just a couple, two nights ago, couple of more fires, and we’d like to catch that person and we’re prepared to offer a thousand-dollar bill, anonymously, I have to underline the anonymous part of it. The tip number is 888-594-8477, and that goes to a Houston, Texas organization; no one will know who you are.

Using radio is a smart move. That spot could be more effective.

Obviously this wasn’t a carefully scripted ad.

They used “found audio” — probably it came from an interview on the radio station — which most likely they gave to a producer with the instructions, “Make a 30-second commercial out of this.”

If putting a stop to those fires really is important, it’s worth the extra time and effort to write a real spot, get that guy back into the studio, and record a more effective message.

* The real story of this commercial is: “We’ll pay $1,000 to anyone who helps us catch the arsonist by calling this phone number.” So that should be the focus of the message.

* People in Roswell, listening to a radio station in Roswell, don’t need to be told they are in Roswell. So let’s not begin the spot with, “Roswell…”

* “Steve Wolf with Crime Stoppers” is not as important as “$1,000 reward.” So let’s move Steve further down the copy.

In fact, let’s jettison Steve’s name entirely; it’s just not important to the message. (Sorry, Steve. But you still can voice the spot…)

* In an offer such as this, people care about the “what,” not the “how.” 

In this ad, the “what” is “$1,000 reward, anonymous.”

The “how” is the organization in Houston, Texas. 

During the course of an interview, that information can be valuable to help assure listeners that they can turn in the bad guy(s) without anyone knowing who blew the whistle.

But in a 30-second spot, you don’t have enough time to include it.

So, let’s write a real commercial. It can be voiced by our friend Steve, or it can be voiced by an announcer.

We will give you a thousand dollars, cash, if you help us stop the Roswell arsonist. If you have any information that might help, call this toll-free number, ANONYMOUSLY. If your tip leads to an arrest, Crime Stoppers will pay you a $1,000 reward…and your name never will be revealed. Here’s the phone number: 888-594-8477. Help us stop this criminal before someone dies in one of those fires. For the thousand-dollar reward, call 888-594-8477. We guarantee you’ll remain anonymous.

I included “Roswell” not to tell listeners where they live but rather to instantly pinpoint the topic of conversation. It’s a shorter, pithier way of saying, “…the unknown person who has been setting all those fires around here.”

You might have noticed the conspicuous lack of fine print. I suspect a little more detail should be included, defining guidelines for qualifying for the reward.

But the original radio advertisement didn’t include any fine print.

A television news report, however, implied the reward would be for information that leads to an arrest (not necessarily to a conviction). So in lieu of other information, that’s the criterion I included in the commercial copy.



by Dan O'Day on July 23, 2014

Warning: What I’ll tell you in this video will offend some radio professionals.

Some people will be upset that I’m not reciting our industry’s “party line.”

But my job is to counsel radio pros on the realities of the business and of the world, not to play the role of Radio Flack.

There are dark clouds on Pandora’s horizon. Ironically, those clouds have appeared as the result of Pandora’s recent lowering of its advertising standards to more closely match those of “traditional” broadcast radio.

As far as the “local radio” argument goes, however, here’s the reality….

View this video about Pandora vs. Local Radio on YouTube.


Radio Copywriting TipsIt’s really not that difficult to write an effective radio commercial.

Here are a few basic rules.

1.  Don’t talk in stupid cliches.

2.  Don’t use inappropriate adjectives.

3.  Don’t begin your spot with words guaranteed to make everyone in the audience stop listening.

Here’s an example of a retail radio ad that doesn’t follow those three simple guidelines.

View this radio commercial copywriting video on YouTube.


K-Tel commercial parody Howard HoffmanHoward Hoffman created this parody of the classic K-TEL commercial many years ago.

He also designed the cover for this little video.

I, however, did all the hard work of pushing the sound into the pictures.

View this K-TEL commercial parody on YouTube.

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