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Monday, May 14, 2018

Minding Your Business! How To Write Funny Radio Commercials

 by Dan O'Day

As a radio advertising expert whose job is to teach radio advertising professionals how to write effective radio commercials, I run into lots of copywriters who want to write "funny commercials."

The goal of a radio commercial never should be to "be funny." It should be to cause the targeted listener to act on the sales message.

But if you are going to write a funny commercial, here are 10 questions to ask before you begin.

1. Is it funny?

2. Is it funny the 10th time the listener hears it?

3. Is it funny the 30th time?

4. Does the comedy revolve around someone's need for the product or service?

5. Does it have an internal logic? (Do the characters' actions make sense within the reality you have created?)

6. When listeners remember the comic storyline, will they remember the product/service being advertised?

7. Does the humor come from human behavior...or does it merely come from jokes?

8. Do the performers treat their characters with respect....or are they laughing at them?

9. Is there a "Key Moment" that repeat listeners can look forward to?

10. Does that key moment come at or very near the end of the spot? (It should.)

11. Does it feature carbon copy situations and predictable characterizations?

12. Is there a "delightful surprise"?

13. Is there a smooth build-up of comic tension?

14. Is there some sort of conflict to drive the story?

15. Does it rely on a catch phrase made popular by some other media message (e.g., commercial, print ad, movie, tv show)? (If so, it's likely to reinforce the original media message, not your commercial message.)

16. Do your characters sound real, or do they sound like disc jockeys or actors?

17. Do your characters listen and react to each other....or do they simply deliver their lines independently?

18. Does the humor accurately reflect the image the advertiser wants to project?

19. Does the humor come from production tricks or from human behavior? (Production tricks entertain production engineers, not listeners.)

20. Is the commercial trying to be funny....or is it trying to motivate the listener to act?

Dan O'Day ( is internationally known as the "radio advertising guru," having taught radio and advertising professionals in 36 different countries how to create radio advertising that works.

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