Radio Commercials: Grab ‘Em Upfront

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December 6, 2012
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December 18, 2012

Radio Commercials: Grab ‘Em Upfront

Greetings and salutations.  Since this is the time of year lists gets published and people take a look back at the year that was, I thought I’d take a look at the beginning.  Nope, not of 2012, but the opening of a radio commercial, affectionately called:  The Grabber.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, or so the saying goes.  This statement accurately describes The Grabber.  In the first :05-:07 of the commercial, your first impression on the listener needs to grab them and command their attention. This makes The Grabber most important part of the commercial.  Why? If the listener’s attention isn’t grabbed, they tune out, with almost no chance of hearing the features/benefits, the offer or the CTA.  So no matter how great the product/service or offer is, it won’t be heard.

No pressure, right?

So, what makes an affective Grabber?  Sound effects, music, a compelling question.  Even stating the Offer could do it.  What will make someone listen and stick around and invest the next :55 of their life to hear what you have to say?

One Grabber that I admittedly waver on is what to do with a disclaimer, especially if it’s bulky.  I used to be a proponent for having it at the beginning of the commercial.  Not because it made an effective Grabber (it doesn’t) but to trick the listeners into thinking it’s the end of the previous commercial.  Now I see it as an immediate tune out and counterproductive.  Sure there are ways to try and bring someone back in after the disclaimer, but now you’re attempting to make a second first impression, so to speak.  There’s no reason to make it harder on your poor commercial that is trying to compete with someone checking their friends’ tweets.

I know it sounds crazy.  There’s only :07, at most, before someone tunes out, grabs their smart phone to check Facebook, Twitter, texts and email or whatever and the commercial is DOA.  Give it a try.  Next time a commercial comes on, either radio or TV, see if you can last the full :30 or :60 and let me know.

Ian Cohen is Production Director at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the RSS link above. Visit our website