What’s a Commercial Supposed to Do?

There’s quite a hoo-ha in progress over this year’s Radio Mercury Awards — the judges decided not to award prizes in several categories, including station-produced spots. Much of the discussion centers around the criteria, and what constitutes a good commercial.

Among the most compelling takes is that of Scott McKelvey,  Director of Creative Services for TargetSpot. McKelvey’s thoughts recently appeared in Tom Taylor’s Radio-Info Newsletter. I’d link directly to it, but the only place I can find the quote is in my email box:

I submitted a commercial for an award for the first time about 10 years ago while working for a New Jersey station. The New Jersey Broadcasters Association, to their credit, required a letter from the advertiser that said the entry was effective. The advertiser sent the following: ‘Thank you for entering our commercial for an award. Even though it didn’t work, we thought it was really funny and creative, and we appreciate the time and effort you put into it.’ He may as well have said, ‘Thanks for wasting my money, jerk.’ This was my wake-up call. Unlike established national brands that spend millions to build market share and top-of-mind awareness, local advertisers need to see ROI. Does this mean commercials for local advertisers can’t be creative or funny? Absolutely not. But it certainly is not a requirement and should never be the goal. The goal should be to sell the product, whether that leads to an award or not…


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