Recipe Ingredient #8 To Make A Bad Radio Or Television Commercial: The “Conversation”

Far too many of these types of mind-numbing commercials are on radio. I find them to be voyeuristic and unbelievable.

Woman #1 (W1): Hey Lisa

Woman #2 (W2): Yes Tina?

W1: Have you heard about all the new, exciting improvements coming to the Northgate Mall?

W2: I haven’t! What are they doing?

W1: They’re adding some of our favorite stores like Candles ‘N Crap, VCR Discount House, and Just Tuna!

W2: WOW! Are there more stores?

W1: Yup…Only Envelopes, Strollers Strollers Strollers, and the new anchor store Pontiac Fiero Superstore Outlet!

W2: What about parking? Northgate Mall is always so crowded…

W1: They just re-striped the parking lot, and added five more spaces!

W2: That settles it, I’m ready to go to Northgate Mall right now!

W1: Me too! Let’s get one of those new parking spaces!

W2 + W1: (giggle laugh – fades out)

Announcer tag: Now at the new Northgate Mall, spend five hundred dollars and get a free pretzel! Northgate Mall, a Mega-Mall Property.

As a hyper-jaded critic (and consumer) I would never, ever visit that mall based on the laziness of that commercial alone.


Conversations sound so much more natural.”

That’s what the copy-writer and business owner tell themselves.

Using the example script I presented above, would someone please show me any two human beings on this planet, who, through their own volition, would have that conversation?

Contact me if and when you find them.


Because the message is so unfocused, the copy-writer (and/or business owner) thinks that by having a “natural conversation” (see above), people will be more inclined to listen.

You couldn’t be more wrong.

Remember the “Two B’s” of any effective ad: 1) Benefits, and 2) Believability.

If you heard that on the radio, would you believe anything either of them were saying?


Saturday Night Live and other programs have made a living off of lampooning advertisements such as the one I wrote.

Why do you think they do it? Because there are so many of them on the air right now.


When you want to tout something new to your business, highlight what you already have. That’s what you’re known for. The bonus to the audience in their mind is, “now they have all this great new stuff there, too!”

Again, using the Shopping Mall example:

With over one hundred and twelve stores, you probably didn’t think there would be room for anything else in Northgate Mall. After bringing in the best construction crews in town, these guys actually brought in six more stores. Candles ‘N Crap, VCR Discount House, and Just Tuna on the first level. On the second floor, Only Envelopes, Strollers Strollers Strollers, and the new Pontiac Fiero Superstore Outlet. Thanks to our construction geniuses, you now have six more reasons to visit Northgate Mall!”

Message delivered with no mention of parking, free pretzels, etc.


Identify your core message. Have a singular voice deliver that message.

Of course, there are rare, certain times when a “conversational commercial” will work…but too often, too many commercial copy-writers and business owners misuse that philosophy.

Tim Burt

About timburtmedia

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