Can You Say That on Radio?

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Can You Say That on Radio?

Brad Benson gives a thumbs up

Brad Benson

OK, I was asked to blog about my favorite radio commercial and the who, what, when, where and whys of how it got to be “the” one, and so here we go. I first wrote on this topic two years ago.  Here it is two years later and my answer remains the same, because I can’t believe this guy is still at it and it’s still working! Below is the 2011 edition of “Can You Say That on Radio?”

I’m just like most people. I don’t really like listening to commercials when I listen to the radio, even though it is my job to make sure other listeners do that very same thing.  So when I come across a radio spot that I enjoy listening to, especially when it is part of a series and I know there are more to come, I have to comment on it.

I listen to a WFAN-AM; the sports talk station from New York City.  It is not surprising to have former athletes be product spokespersons.  When former New York Giant, Brad Benson, takes to the airwaves as spokesperson for his central New Jersey Hyundai dealership you would expect that almost robotic monotone car dealer pitch that dominates local radio. Oh boy, are you wrong!

Benson has made himself; more than an ex-athlete with a Super bowl ring, more than a local car dealer, but a local radio personality. His spots are topical, humorous and most of all a little irreverent. But since launching this radio campaign has gone from selling 50 or 80 cars a month in 2005 to 500 a month this year.

I am no copywriter, but I do know good, compelling copy. Let’s review some of his antics:

  • Benson promised to be celibate (though he has a wife of 28 years) until he moved from the No. 2 Hyundai dealer in the country to No. 1.
  • He promised controversial minister Terry Jones from Florida free use of a Hyundai for a year if promised to never burn another Quran.
  • He made the same promise to Roger Clemens if he finally told the truth about steroid use and the same promise to Saddam Hussein if he got out of Iraq in 2005.
  • And my favorite — he invited people to come by the dealership to see his 40ft. “erection” – which just happened to be the goal post from the old Giants Stadium.

Yes, he has offended some people and has had to pull or edit some of his spots over the years, but as a “radio-only” agency person, I wish all my potential clients had his perspective on radio. He also gets his listeners to interact. Many times the follow-up to one of his more controversial spots will be asking people to call in with their comments.  T his is followed by a third spot where the actual call-ins are used. Brilliant!

Benson practices what I preach, that repetition is key. Now something of an expert on radio effectiveness, Benson says, “Typically, you need at least three months of repetition for a residual buildup. A start-stop-start approach, which many advertisers choose in looking to save a little money, often results in money being wasted because it doesn’t produce results.”

Today, Benson’s ad schedule achieves what he calls a “roadblock.” One-minute spots run once every hour all day and all night, seven days a week, on 101.5, which features a talk format Monday through Friday, and “oldies” on the weekend.

On WFAN, New York’s leading sports talk station, the schedule is one spot an hour every day from early morning until the end of evening drive time.

Without “working blue,” he realized that when a local car dealer spot can elicit anger or humor or any emotion for that matter except boredom, that he was on to something. Benson realizes that great commercials aside, he must back up those ads with sound business practices. With a no-money-down offer and the promise that he will make (not defer) your first year’s payments or provide 0% financing does just that.

Good luck to Benson in his quest for number one.  And good luck to his wife for any number of reasons.

Monica Caraffa is a Senior Account Manager at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above. Visit our website