Commercial Contrast

The use of contrast in a radio commercial will draw attention, make it interesting, create the unexpected and keep listeners from falling asleep. Too often commercials are all one flavor – a sea of audio beige. Try juxtaposing silence and noise or two widely differing music cuts to tell the story of two aspects of a product or service.

Use differing sound effects to switch the scene from one locale to another.

Your biggest opportunity for contrast is with voices. Play contrasting emotions off each other. Write your spot so that each character has one strong consistent emotion, different from the rest of the cast. After you’ve written the spot you can modify the interplay to build in some subtlety, to show some transition. The old Bud Light campaign with Charlton Heston and the ‘normal” people was a good example of contrasting voices and attitudes.

Something as simple as alternating a hard sell voice and a soft sell voice, both doing parodies of their genres can be both entertaining and effective.

The “Slow Talkers of America” routine made famous by Bob and Ray would be a good basis for a commercial. You could contrast lifestyles: Old money / entrepreneur; formal / informal; timid / bold; irrepressibly happy / deeply depressed; Mr. Optimist / Mr. Pessimist. Two characters like Felix and Oscar, The Odd Couple, could yield possibilities for a long-running radio campaign.

It could even be a single voice, demonstrating different aspects of his or her personality talking to each other that could provide contrast.

However you show it, contrast will add life to the story you’re telling and perk up the ears of those jaded radio listeners. Dump the bland, bring on the salsa!

Jeffrey Hedquist. Email jeffrey@hedquist.com.

(Article printed from ARIA Connect - the online resource for radio sales professionals: www.aria-radio.com)

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