The answer is blowin’ in the wind…
22nd May, 2018
by Tim Craig
Those of you not acquainted with Radioville HQ won’t be able to picture the narrow, insalubrious alleyway in Soho called Chapone Place.
Last Monday morning, as I picked my way through the mixed-media detritus which had been deposited by revellers and other assorted ne’er-do-wells over the course of the weekend, I noticed several sheets of A4 paper blowing about. (those of you of a certain age: picture the opening credits of ‘Starsky and Hutch’). Each sheet displayed the name of a local TV production company, and prominently displayed the word ‘INVOICE’ at the top. I pocketed a handful of these sheafs – purely out of a patriotic desire to Keep Britain Tidy, you understand – and took them into the office with me.
Just as I was just about to shred them and place them in our office recycling bin, I ‘accidentally’ caught sight of some of the amounts being billed.
£140k…gets you what???
One of the invoices was for a TV commercial, and the figure was slightly under £140,000, representing “the second half of the budgeted production costs.”
For not the first time in the last two decades, I thought to myself, ‘I’m in the wrong business.’
The Price of TV Advertising vs. Radio Advertising
It also got me thinking about the many stark differences between TV and radio advertising, of which cost is one of the starkest.
Wherever you go to have your radio ads made – be it a Soho radio specialist, such as ourselves, or an in-house production team at a local station – the thick end of three hundred grand will buy you more than you could ever need.
And that’s one of the reasons creativity on radio suffers: there just isn’t enough money at stake.
Imagine you were the time-pressed Marketing Director of XXXXXXX, the well-known confectionery brand named on this invoice I just found blowing along the street. Imagine you had to decide which project was going to receive the lion’s share of your care and attention. Would you choose the three hundred grand TV ad, or the five grand radio ad?
And, of course, that same question is also facing the Creative Director of your agency – where radio generally accounts for a mere 2% of billings.
This often results in the inexperienced junior marketing exec who is given the radio to oversee, and the inexperienced junior copywriter in the agency who is given it to create.
With exactly the kind of consequences you can hear on a radio somewhere near you now.
There’s a Chris Rock sketch where he talks about how gun violence could be dramatically reduced by the simple act of making bullets really expensive, such that people would really need to think before shooting somebody.
I reckon the same thing would be true for radio too: if they cost as much as TV to make, people might allocate the same time, effort and talent to creating them, with a commensurate rise in quality.
But experience doesn’t have to
Until then you may have to search far and wide to find people who care as much about radio as it deserves.
But a good place to start is a narrow, insalubrious alleyway in Soho called Chapone Place.