Recipe Ingredient #7 To Make A Bad Radio Or Television Commercial: The Laundry List

All too often, business owners who write their own scripts fail to realize the one simple, core fact when trying to convey a message: what is the one thing you want the audience to remember about your company?

You’ll most often see and hear the misguided “Laundry List” approach on restaurant, medical/hospital, and car dealer commercials.


We sell a lot of product X, but need to move more of product Y”

Let’s use a restaurant for an example.

What is McDonald’s primarily known for? Hamburgers. Namely, the Big Mac (yes, you could make an argument for their french fries).

Does it matter that McDonald’s also sells chicken, fish, smoothies, iced coffee, and salads?


McDonald’s realized to remain competitive in a highly crowded field that they had to expand their offerings, just as other fast-food chains were (and are) doing.


The “Laundry List” creeps into advertising when the business owner becomes tired of promoting their best-selling item.

Again, using a restaurant example, let’s make it a local eatery with one or a handful of locations. We’ll call it “Tim’s Steakhouse”.

Tim the owner gets tired of promoting the fact that he sells a lot of steaks. He wants the public to know that the business also has a brand new salmon dish that his chef has created. There are also seven new salads on the menu.

Suddenly, Tim thinks “this is what will bring in more people”. Not necessarily true.

The people that will patronize the Steakhouse are coming there for steak. When people see you also offer alternatives, in the mind of the consumer it’s a bonus. They also don’t feel pressured to have (in this case) a variation of steak…whether they want it or not.


The owner (Tim) then will usually write his own script for his new advertisement touting all the “exciting additions” to the menu.

You know Tim’s Steakhouse for great steaks. But did you know we now offer great salmon? We take the best North Atlantic salmon and lightly season it for a great taste. But if you want something on the lighter side, try any one of our seven new salads. Everything from Chef, House, Cobb, and a chicken salad that you’ll love. Come in to Tim’s Steakhouse today to try any of our new menu additions. And don’t forget we have great desserts, too!”

Mixed messages kill advertising.


Promote the one thing that you are known for. 


Find the one thing that makes your “steak” different from your competitor. For example:

“There are a lot of restaurants that serve steak. But there’s only one restaurant that grills your steak with the unmistakable seasoning that can only be from Tim’s Steakhouse. Seven unique spices come together to bring out the true flavor of the meat. Angus beef is good…but it’s better when it’s cooked at Tim’s Steakhouse.”

There is no mention of salmon, salads, or desserts.

As they say, sell the sizzle. And in this case, the steak, too.

Tim Burt

About timburtmedia

30,000+ ads globally. Commercial Advertising Marketing - world-wide audio producer, voice-over talent, copywriter.
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1 Response to Recipe Ingredient #7 To Make A Bad Radio Or Television Commercial: The Laundry List

  1. Pingback: Recipe Ingredient #9 To Make A Bad Radio Or Television Commercial: Script By Committee | Free Tips To Improve Radio, Television, and Web Advertisements From Tim Burt Media, St. Louis STL Commercial Production Expert

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