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radio commercial critiqueRemember the terrible Lowe’s Home Improvement “Labor Day” radio commercial?

It was immediately followed, in the same stopset on the Los Angeles radio station where I heard it, with this bad commercial for a direct competitor:

“Orchard” is not some beloved, well known character representing the advertise.

The listener is expected to figure out that the person being addressed as “Hey, Orchard” is some sort of personification of Orchard Supply Hardware.

This commercial tells the story of how “Orchard” is spending his Labor Day weekend, as he relates it to an unknown second party and the two of them engage in vapid banter.

The story could have centered on how the targeted listener could save 8.75% on “almost anything in the store.”

Instead, the listener is left with a mental picture of two “voices,” nothing more.

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  • Nick Summers September 3, 2014, 10:54 am

    Yes, the ad’s concept may be weak, but the message itself – “Orchard will pay your sales tax” – came though loud and clear, heard three times in the spot. For that reason I say “mission accomplished.” The radio commercial did its job.

  • Dan O'Day September 3, 2014, 12:02 pm

    @Nick Summers: The problem is that no one will hear the message.

    You heard it only because you actively chose to come to my blog post about radio advertising.

    Then you clicked on the audio player to hear the Orchard radio commercial.

    Then you listened to it attentively.

    None of the above, however, reflects the behaviors of a radio listener.

  • Neal Angell September 3, 2014, 5:59 pm

    I was even TRYING to listen attentively, in a quiet office with no distractions, but right upon hearing that opening, “Hey, Orchard,” my mind immediately started to wander. I’m thinking, ‘Orchard?! What, is that some kind of hippie name? Who are Orchard’s siblings, Moon and River?’ I had to click “stop” and “play” multiple times (a luxury the listener does not have) to get past the annoying chatter and catch the offer. As Dan pointed out, it would seem that the listener is expected to put in the effort to “figure out” what’s going on. But the problem is that listeners WON’T put in the effort to try and figure it out (Why would they bother when they have numerous distractions where their attention could be better spent?). Every commercial message is essentially asking, “Hey Listener, may I have 10/15/30/60 seconds of your time?” But listeners won’t give up even one second of their time if they feel it’s going to be wasted. Bottom Line: No one is obligated to give their attention to commercials. We have to EARN their attention.