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MONDAY RADIO COMMERCIAL SMACKDOWN: Major Market Embarrassment

The purpose of a radio commercial critique isn’t to criticize; it’s to show how the spot could have been improved.

But this commercial that’s airing on a major Los Angeles station is an embarrassment to the radio advertising industry…

Not because it’s so bad, but because the radio station allowed it to be broadcast.

I don’t care what the excuses might be:

“That’s what the client gave us.”

or

“That’s what the client wanted.”

or

“They didn’t give us enough time to do it right.”

or

“That spot was part of a package, and we had to cut it down from a much longer version.”

There’s no excuse for airing a commercial with such poor audio quality.

There’s no excuse for beginning with the name of someone unknown to the audience, followed by the rushed, garbled name of the advertiser. (The advertiser’s name is not particularly known in L.A., so they couldn’t rely on listeners to recognize it.)

People stop thinking about “the new year” about a week after January 1. No one is thinking about “New Year’s resolutions.”

If listeners were searching for worthy resolutions, “making this the year I finally put a BMW in my driveway” would not make the cut

Then an incredibly bad edit (probably because the station’s producer desperately tried to salvage and truncate the original recording) to a sentence that can’t be understood in its entirety by any casual listener.

Then, even a telephone number that can’t be understood (!).

“Nick can’t say no?” It’s obvious that this radio station couldn’t say no.

Because the station couldn’t say no, they made themselves, their client, and the commercial radio industry look bad.

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  • Don L. January 28, 2013, 8:06 am

    It’s the job of the Account Executive to have a campaign that gets results for the client. it’s obvious that the person doing the spot is related to the owner. I’m betting that the spot was recorded on site with a cheap digital recorder. If you’re going to record clients on-site then I suggest purchasing a Zoom H4N handheld that has an XLR mic input. The Zoom’s are superior to anything else available. By the way, the Call To Action was very weak.

  • Dave January 28, 2013, 8:58 am

    Wow, that was bad. I work in a small market in the upper Midwest, and I’m just curious how much the advertiser would pay for a :15 ad like that during drive time on a popular station in Los Angeles. They would probably get more out of their advertising dollars by setting them on fire in the parking lot of the dealership.

  • John Pellegrini January 28, 2013, 9:08 am

    This is what happens when no one cares. The advertiser doesn’t care, the radio station sales rep doesn’t care, the program director doesn’t care, the production person doesn’t care, the station GM doesn’t care. And then they wonder why they have no listeners? Probably because the listeners no longer care to listen to a station where no one cares.

  • Dan O'Day January 28, 2013, 9:30 am

    @ John Pellegrini: I don’t think it’s fair to say the advertiser doesn’t care. The advertiser has been sold something by an account exec; she has put herself and her business under the care and protection the account exec and of the radio station.

    The sales rep may or may not care. Probably the sales rep cares but:
    a) Has absolutely no training in how to create effective radio advertising
    b) Is under tremendous pressure to make sales.

    It’s possible the production person doesn’t care. But it’s more likely that he tore his hair out when he was given a piece of drek and told to salvage it, and he does not have the authority to reject what an account exec gives him.

    In this corporate radio station, I doubt the program director has the authority to step in.

    The GM might (or might not) care, but most likely it’s moot because he’s under so much pressure to meet the monthly sales budget and, quite possibly, reports to someone else who cares only about meeting that budget.

  • Lisa Foster January 28, 2013, 11:42 am

    Omigod – what a stinker!

  • John Van Camp January 28, 2013, 1:28 pm

    To be fair, we Angelenos recognize this slogan that Alexander has been using for years here. Spot is bad, bad edit, agreed. But whatever the message, Angelenos know this advertiser well, which may be the reason for the less than perfect production that might have been rushed for a number of reasons, the least of which might be to tightly fit a hole in the station’s internet stream. But Nick Alexander is still selling BMWs regardless of the message because the “frequency” of the message is plenty saturated. The most important part of the spot, IMHO is “Nick can’t say No” because bad ads in LA seem to succeed with slogans being flung by their respective pitchmen….”Or Your Matress is FREEEEEE!”

  • Dan O'Day January 28, 2013, 2:15 pm

    @John Van Camp: I can’t agree that Angelenos are likely to recognize the slogan.

    I’ve been an Angeleno for a long time, and I’ve never heard of this business or any of its advertising.

    Before posting this reply, I called two other longtime L.A. friends.

    —–
    Me: Does the name “Nick Alexander” mean anything to you

    They: No.

    Me: What about the slogan, “Nick can’t say no”?

    They: Don’t know it.

    Me: Are you familiar with Nick Alexander BMW?

    They: Nope.
    —–

    Although you’re familiar with that car dealer, John, I don’t think it’s accurate to suggest that most L.A. residents are.

  • Peter Brown January 28, 2013, 2:18 pm

    Idunnowhatyoumeanseemsfinetome.

  • scott snailham January 28, 2013, 3:29 pm

    The audio quality is fine…kinda boomy, but that could be the off air processing or what it is recorded off of. we really don’t know, but it’s clear.

    the problem lies in cramming too much copy into a :15 and a WTF moment at the end with a bad edit and a garbled read.

    I expect this in a small market, not LA. Waste of airtime if you think anyone cares about it. The read is terrible, no offense to the sales person, but again. to me, it goes back to cramming the copy to please the client to me. I’d be hiring a decent male VO actor maybe middle aged with a touch of class in his voice tone.

    I agree though, get rid of any new years resolution mentions after the first 2 weeks of the year.

    Its unfortunate it got to air, but stations need the $$$$ to survive in what continues to be a fragmented audience with a variety of media choices.

  • Kathy Lynn January 28, 2013, 6:08 pm

    “Small Market” does not translate to “gets away with crappy”. A lot of small market stations have local owners. You big city folks may not get that, but that also means that our owner is in the building with us. As PD, Production Dir, voice tracker and the person who answers the phone when the secretary goes to get the mail, its my job to make sure everything on the air conforms to my standards and that of my owner. If I let that get on the air, I would have to answer for it and defend my decision. Some one should have said NO.

  • scott snailham January 28, 2013, 7:17 pm

    You bet they should, and you’re right, small market shouldn’t equate sloppy production, but too often it does. I’m glad to see some people are trying to change that attitude.

    I do have standards…and quite frankly, that’s below mine. Unless it was a “shut up to keep my job” situation (which is why I am glad i’m out of the industry, but still play around online) That would not go to air. That’s just basic good production 101.

  • Neal Angell January 30, 2013, 6:39 pm

    On the plus side, at least it didn’t have loud, annoying music under her voice. In a typical break full of typical announcer-over-music spots, Alexander BMW might stand out from the crowd simply due to its conspicuous lack of music. And she actually has a pretty nice-sounding voice – she just needs some professional direction. But not a bad idea for her to be the voice of Alexander BMW.

    I personally don’t care for the slogan, “Nick Can’t Say No.” It has a shady quality, just typical car dealer rhetoric that instantly makes a promise you know the dealer can’t keep.

    And I wonder if the dealer wrote the copy and they had to stick with the stupid “New Year’s Resolution” concept (and yes, I completely agree that someone should’ve told the client that it doesn’t make sense to keep talking about New Year’s Resolutions this far into the year). If you go to the client’s website and scroll down to the section: “About Nick Alexander Imports,” the first sentence says “Nick Alexander Imports, your trusted Los Angeles BMW dealer, has been family-owned-and-operated since 1979.” And keep reading to learn how they can “help you find the vehicle you are looking for at a price you can afford.”

    On a side note, car dealers have among the biggest advertising budgets around. I have to wonder why they went with a crammed :15 when they no doubt could afford :30s or :60s.