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Mercedes’ Record of Incompetent Radio Advertising Continues

This really should not be a difficult concept to grasp:

radio copywriting tipsIn a radio commercial, what the listener pictures is what the listener remembers.

This Mercedes spot goes out of its way to paint pictures that do nothing to deliver or support the sales message while spouting that message in a manner that guarantees few will hear it and none will remember.

Here’s the Mercedes radio commercial.


Notice how the spot grabbed your attention from the beginning?

“You grew up together. Went to college together,” delivered conversationally.

“Ah,” you thought. “This is going to tell some sort of human story. Let’s see where it goes.”

You pictured the best friend standing up at the wedding reception and raising his glass to make a toast.

The only additional mental image you experienced might’ve been of someone in the wedding party inexplicably whistling in the background.

If you heard that commercial on the radio, 5 minutes later I could’ve asked you, “You know that commercial you just heard, where the guy makes a speech at his best friend’s wedding? What were they advertising? What action did the advertiser want you to take?”

“Uh,” you’d reply, “something about…um…some car or something??”

Radio Storytelling Tips

Just for a moment, let’s pretend that story does lead to a strong sales message.

1. Don’t have the announcer also play the part of the best friend.

We already see him as that guy who’s talking to us through that electronic device.

But suddenly he’s “you” — the best friend making the toast?

The listener doesn’t see the best friend.

The listener sees the announcer playing the role of the best friend.

Abruptly it becomes clear this isn’t some human story. It’s …some sort of dumb commercial.

2. If you were reading a novel and came across a sentence that said, “She was crying. Tears were streaming down her face,” you might well think, “Well, yeah. That’s kinda what happens what a person cries. Once you said she was crying, I assumed tears were involved.”

That would be bad writing.

In a radio story (in a commercial or as entertainment), if a character clears his throat and begins to speak, prefacing those actions with the announcer’s declaring, “He clears his throat and says” is bad storytelling.

Helpful Suggestion for Mercedes

Fire the ad agency that you paid to create that drivel.

Create your own drivel. There must be an intern around with a few minutes to spare.

Take the money you otherwise would’ve paid the agency and donate to a worthy charity.

Download free radio copywriting seminar here.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Mike Holmes July 2, 2018, 1:23 pm

    Dan, why do you think major manufacturers actually sign off on stuff as bad as this? Thanks.

  • Dan O'Day July 5, 2018, 3:37 pm

    Mike Holmes: To give you an adequate response, I’ll have to (and will) write another post specifically to address your question.

  • Tony Mariani July 6, 2018, 5:43 am

    When you think of all the people that had to touch this ad my goodness how do any of them still have a job! What a load of throw up!

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