Recipe Ingredient #3 To Make A Bad Radio Or Television Commercial: Cliches.

Cliches are found in commercials when the copywriter/salesperson/business owner/ad agency comes at the core of the advertisement message from the wrong angle.


  • “For all your _____ needs.”
  • “There’s never been a better time than now!”
  • “It’s the sale you’ve been waiting for!”

Business Owners: if you have any cliches such as this in any of your advertising in any form, you’re wasting your money.

Ad Agencies: if you’re putting cliches such as this in any of your clients advertising, you’re simultaneously wasting their money and stealing a paycheck.

You’re also virtually guaranteeing they won’t return as a client.

A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE (names changed to protect the guilty)

A few years ago while driving here in St. Louis, I heard a live DJ commercial for a very well-known local barbecue chain on an AM radio station.

 The DJ sounded completely nonplussed by the copy. It was obvious he was reading bullet points from a paper in order to make a live “script”.

After reading a litany of their locations, what they offer, their hours, and other pointless drivel, he actually said:

 “(ABC) Barbecue, for all your lunch or dinner needs”.

 I almost drove off the road.

 Let’s dissect that mind-numbing statement. Aside from the food, the utensils, and a place to eat, what else is there?

If the DJ is that bored with the copy, and the salesperson doesn’t care enough to find out more info about what makes the restaurant so good/different, why, as the owner, would I continue to spend money with that station?

The radio station would have (at a minimum) given me two more bonus commercials to attempt to make up for the lack of effort. At most, I would’ve cancelled the rest of my advertising schedule.


There are many reasons lazy copy-writing occurs:

  • Account Executives are selling more platforms for their companies, which saps precious time from sharpening the focus of the on-air product.
  • Clients believe they know what “kind”of information will work best in their ads.
  • Production and post-production personnel have been resorted to an “assembly line” mentality due to the amount of commercials they must produce.
And business owners, ad agencies, and salespeople wonder why the public doesn’t trust advertising. 


Focus on what makes the business unique.

I guarantee you that a business owner didn’t start a company to mimic their competition. They saw a hole in the market, and looked to fill that void.


Let’s say you bought something at a big-box store or national chain business and felt like you got ripped off (for whatever reason). When you went to return the item or complain about the service, the person behind the counter was apathetic to your concerns.

How would you feel?

I’m betting you wouldn’t go back to that store. And you’d tell others not to go there, either.

From the salesperson to the copywriter to the producer, you owe it to the client to maximize every possible second of the time they have purchased. 

When you use cliches, you’re cheating that client.

About timburtmedia

30,000+ ads globally. Commercial Advertising Marketing - world-wide audio producer, voice-over talent, copywriter.
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