Kill The Cliches
I can’t stand clichés. They’re the product of lazy writing or products with little benefit. If you find a script full of them, you need a new writer, a better product, or both. There’s one particular cliché I want to talk about. You’ve all heard examples of it. The radio is littered with the emaciated corpses of colour starved scripts; my least favourite being the achingly obvious ones. By that, I’m referring to....
International Ads – There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t see an account for something like an Italian restaurant, an Italian furniture store, or a granite countertop place run by someone who’s name is vaguely Italian. Every time the first creative suggestion will be “let’s voice it with an Italian accent,” or “we can do a mobster parody.” Its. SO. PAINFUL!
It’s true that the best ideas are simple, but they’re also rarely arrived at immediately. The mobster parody is sitting on the diving board of someone’s mouth whenever the word Italy is shuddered. That makes it a poor commercial. It has been done to death. Let’s bury it in a time capsule and open it up after the world’s first apocalypse. Furthermore, it is an insulting idea. I know many Italians that wouldn’t be happy to be compared to criminals. But still, I hear these types of ads every week. For example...
The client is in category dominated by women – Have it voiced by a moronic male character.
The client is British – Let’s make a spot talking about the queen & crumpets.
The client is a community developer – Let’s use the sounds of nature and describe amenities.
Too easy! Too Boring! And too damned tired!
We can all do better than the obvious idea. We all need to do better than the obvious idea. If you want an obvious “safe” idea please do not buy radio advertising. It is too expensive to play it safe. You will disappear and sadly, you will eventually blame the medium. The medium works. You just need the right message first.
This topic is somewhat vague, but I do want to make one final point. When you decide you really do want to voice something using an accent, do not have someone fake it. Sure, some people are good at character voices and accents, but they all pale in comparison to hiring a native speaker. If you want a Scot, hire a scot. If you need a Spanish accent, go find a Spaniard. It really isn’t that hard to do, and it makes an enormous difference. Basically, if you’re going to do something, do it right. We fool ourselves into thinking radio commercials are cheap to make. They shouldn’t be, because radio airtime is very expensive. Back your investment up with a quality message voiced professionally.