The Advertising Script Is An Obsolete Construct – Part 1 – Advertising Expert Tim Burt Explains

An open letter to the global advertising community at large:

It’s Our Fault Most Advertising Sucks

After 20+ years in commercial radio, with my hand personally involved in well over 10,000 (probably closer to 20,000) commercials (radio/television/direct mail/online), I have drawn conclusions that lead me to title this blogpost series as such.

The Rise Of Mediocrity (And Worse)

It would be easy to single out commercial radio and television as the main offenders, for they are the biggest catalysts to the (purported) decline in listenership, viewership, advertising revenue, etc.

However, with the rise of internet advertising over the last 15+ years, many of the same mistakes that are being made on traditional media have found their way online.

Most advertising now is guilty of driving toward the wrong goal: to entertain. This is one of the things I covered in my speeches at The Conclave in Minneapolis this week.

Advertising should never be used to strictly entertain. 

YouTube Reinforces Poor Advertising

Do your fingers quickly tap the mouse or button as to avoid the commercials that precede most YouTube videos?

Usually, I relish the thought of watching a horribly produced/written/acted ad before my desired video. But sometimes, even I can’t take it.

We in the advertising community are to blame. 

Face it, we’ve all done it. Your humble author, included (usually on the direction of an ill-informed client or ad agency). Maybe not for YouTube specifically, but most certainly on radio and television.

Your YouTube ad should make the targeted audience want to not click to skip the advertisement. It should make them want to watch longer than the required 5-15 seconds.

Only entertaining the audience will never lead to more sales for the business being advertised.

How Did We Get Here?

There are two main culprits.

First, the broadcasting companies and advertising agencies.

Secondly, the business owners themselves.

Broadcasters & Ad Agencies

A long time ago, broadcasting companies (large and small) decided that a dedicated copywriter was a luxury, not a necessity. This has led to that position becoming virtually extinct in media.

As an industry whole, that’s bad news.

Yet radio/television sales representatives wonder why they have a high client turnover rate. 


(As a personal aside, that’s good news for me – because there are so few people writing effective copy that I often get asked to write commercials for virtually all mediums.)

Advertising agencies are equally guilty.

Most of them will never tell you this, but their main goal is not to generate money for their client. 

Their main goals are: peer acceptance, winning awards, and rounding up as many clients in their stable as possible (and keeping the wool pulled over the eyes of the client for as long as they can – convincing the client that they need the ad agency to navigate the marketing jungle).

If you’re an owner or employee of an advertising agency, does that offend you? It should. Frankly, I hope it does.

Because only then will you begin to help undo the damage done.

The Tip Of The Iceberg

But this is only the beginning in correcting the problem, and I’ve had to summarize simply for the sake of words. I could write 10 blog posts thoroughly identifying the problem, but this is the head of the snake, so to speak.

In the next posting, I’ll present a typical radio and television script – and point out all of their flaws.

Tim Burt

About timburtmedia

30,000+ ads globally. Commercial Advertising Marketing - world-wide audio producer, voice-over talent, copywriter.
This entry was posted in Advertising, Advice, Commercial, print, radio, Television, video and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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