The Christmas selling season is underway and I am hearing more commercials on the radio from mom and pop operations. In the last few days I’ve yelled at my car radio three times. To be fair, I was baited. Thats right, the Gods of radio hung out a pound of meat in front of a ravenous animal. The ‘pound of meat’ came in the form of one phrase in a commercial, ‘conveniently located’. The fact is that I have been conditioned to pounce.
Back in radio’s dark ages when local people owned radio stations and employees actually were hired by and talked to the person who signed their paycheck, Young copywriter me, was taught that all clichés must be avoided. Especially the Murder One of clichés, ‘conveniently located. My tutorial included the fact that a radio station’s signal covered a large geographic area thus ‘conveniently located’ is a highly relative term and in fact is not convenient to most of the broadcast area.
Compounding the crime was that the overuse of this term means that anyone producing ad copy using it, was a lazy writer, uncreative and less intellectual than an amoeba on the mouse turd underneath the production studio console. Pretty damning stuff in a field that operates on ideas. Needless to say, it made an impression. I had 30 or 60 seconds to paint a picture and issue a call to action. I didn’t have the time to waste on meaningless verbiage.
I am not stupid (this comes as a shock to those who know me). On the street is a salesperson busting his or her ass getting the crap abused out of them day after day, week after week, hot, cold, sun, rain, snow and don’t forget the locusts! When finally the benefits of radio advertising hits home, a client signs on the dotted line and some copy has to be approved. What does the client insist on including? Conveniently located! What’s a salesdog to do?
I would hope that as an advertising consultant you could explain why this is meaningless and sell a concept that would actually move product. Yet this advertising sin is not confined to mom and pop operations. It appears in radio, TV and print ads of companies that should know better and/or have ad agencies that should know better.
I’ve noticed an increasing number of straight reads on the radio these days. Maybe a music bed running underneath. This may be the result of having almost all staff being stripped from our local radio stations. Those left have neither the time or inclination to do beyond what is required to get the commercial on the air. So they reach into the cliché bin, filling time and actually thinking they work. As for me, I will be conveniently located next to my radio ready to pounce.