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What Was That Number Again?

What Was That Number Again?

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What Was That Number Again?

127 pages
1 heure
Jan 23, 2012


Most radio advertising is bland, boring, poorly written, shoddily produced, offers little value for the advertiser’s investment, and insults the listener’s intelligence. But it doesn't have to be this way.
Neil Hedley was an ad agency Creative Director by the age of twenty, doing international award-winning work for clients around the globe. In this book, he'll help you avoid committing some of the most common crimes against advertising. At the same time he'll give you the solid foundation for success and inspirational knowledge that launched a 30-year career that continues today.

Jan 23, 2012

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What Was That Number Again? - Neil Hedley

What Was That Number Again?

Crimes Against Advertising, and

How to Prevent Them

by Neil Hedley

Published by Neil Hedley at Smashwords

This book is available in print at most online retailers.

Copyright © 2012 Neil Hedley

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

~ ~ ~ ~


I’ve been lucky enough to find people who inspired me to become a better writer. They include Larry MacInnis, Bob Humenick, Chris Tyrovolas, Mike Kryton, David Ogilvy, Seth Godin, Dick Orkin, Darren Wasylyk, and many others.

May you find the people who inspire the creativity in you.

Every word in this book was written as if I were reading it aloud to my beloved Tatiana, the person who taught me more than anyone else, to believe in myself and have the guts to try. She taught me that if you leap, the net will appear.

Thanks for making this leap with me, honey.

~ ~ ~ ~



1 Introduction

2 In The Beginning Were The Words

3 Dick Who?

4 Claude C. Hopkins

5 David Ogilvy

6 Dick Orkin

7 The 4th Member of The Trinity

8 What Defines A Great Radio Commercial?

9 What Makes People Buy?

10 The Copywriter’s Toolbox

11 Exploring The Battlefield

12 Finding The Right Approach

13 How To Write A Great Jingle

14 Writing For Theater Of The Mind

15 How To Write Straight-Read Commercials

16 How To Write Funny Radio Commercials

17 How To Write Funny Radio Commercials, Part II

18 How To Tell The Client They’re Wrong

19 Things To Avoid

20 The Nitty-Gritty

21 The Red-Headed Stepchild

22 That’s A Wrap

About the Author

~ ~ ~ ~


In October of 2010, my friend Amanda O’Reilly suggested that I write an e-book, sharing the expertise that led to my setting a record for charitable fundraising events on the radio. While intrigued, I never followed up on the idea because I didn’t see much of a market for it, and didn’t think many people would buy it.

Fast forward to Friday, June 3rd, 2011. Tatiana and I were having lunch with three relatively new friends – Kathy Buckworth, Theresa Albert and Jo-Anne Wallace, when it was made quite clear I was to get my head out of my ass.

They asked why, after 30 years in radio and whatever other things I had done, I had never written a book, never gone on a speaking tour, never acknowledged to myself that in all my years in the industry, I had amassed some knowledge and experiences that were well worth sharing.

This book is the result of that cranial extrication.

~ ~ ~ ~


Most radio advertising is bland, boring, poorly written, shoddily produced, offers little value for the advertiser’s investment, and insults the listener’s intelligence.

Seth Godin, the Godfather of all modern marketing wisdom, refers to radio and television advertising as interruption marketing. That is to say, we’re enjoying a particular program when an advertiser barges in, puts a kink in our enjoyment like it was a garden hose, and unilaterally decides that right now is the best time to listen to what they have to say. They’re not far removed from the drunk at the party who knocks over the cabinet with the stereo equipment in it.

Seth has become an icon in the marketing business (and deservedly so) while predicting - and usually calling for - the death of advertising as we’ve come to know it. The statistics appear to cheer Seth on; an Edison Media Research/Arbitron study showed that radio stations lose as much as 42% of their audience when an intrusive or annoying commercial comes on.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.


This book is not going to pretend to give you a magical formula for writing great commercials. A radio commercial is not a Twinkie. There’s no recipe. You can’t add a teaspoon of this, half an ounce of that, make sure you do ‘x’ a certain number of times and be guaranteed a great commercial. Anyone who claims that there is a formula has misled you. It’s like saying that a great romantic comedy has to have a kiss every seventeen minutes, or that a great rock and roll song has to have a drum solo within the first twelve seconds. It’s bunk.

This book is not written for style and usage devotees who are expecting graphs, charts, illustrated concepts and a million footnotes. It is largely written in the style in which I speak which can, at times, be irreverent, meandering and oversimplified. I will try to organize things into chapters with common threads, but sometimes a great story might require jumping around topics to provide the background that makes it a great story.

This book is not going to walk on eggshells, either. If you’re a professional copywriter, an advertising student, or a business owner who for God knows what reason has ever written their own commercial, you’ll likely be either challenged or offended somewhere in these pages. That’s why, later on, there’s a link to the website where you can come and tell me why you believe I don’t know what I’m talking about. In fact, I encourage that conversation.

Because although I agree with Seth in that radio’s viability as an advertising medium is under greater scrutiny now than ever before (that’s a very mild version of how Seth puts it), it’s not like the medium is going away any time soon. In fact, recent studies are starting to show that some people – both listeners and advertisers – might be starting to lean back toward radio. So as long as radio is still breathing, it makes sense to figure out ways to maximize whatever impact it still has left.

Ready? Let’s get started.

~ ~ ~ ~


I was 15 years old and living in a bedroom community just east of Toronto when, on my summer vacation, I walked into Bob Humenick’s office for the first time. Bob was the colorful Creative Director for the two stations in the building, which meant that the copy for all our commercials (even material produced by outside advertising agencies) went through him before it got on the air.

He was a giant of a man, with arms as big as my legs, and was passionate about everything he did. Bob’s passion for life and for radio would sometimes materialize in the form of laughing fits that were contagious enough to bring the building’s productivity level to zero for half a day. Once, his passion made itself clear when he picked up an IBM Selectric typewriter (those ones with the ball inside, that weighed as much as Buick) and heaved it out of a second-floor window after a sales rep had completely butchered one of his scripts at a client meeting.

Bob Humenick lit a fire in me that still hasn’t gone out 30 years later. While I had always loved to read, Bob showed me that I also could write. He inspired me through his own award-winning work, and by giving me a massive library of some of the best advertising in radio history. He taught me that a radio commercial is just as much an art as it is a science, and that you can’t truly do a good job until you understand both aspects. He sparked an enduring interest in marketing, advertising, communicating ideas and crafting the written word; and about halfway into those months we spent working together, he wrote me perhaps the most entertaining and most effective disciplinary letter in the history of employee relations.

At the time, I had been working in radio on a part-time basis for a couple of years already, but still didn’t know which part of radio was going to become my specialty (something that in some ways remains true to this day). But that first day, Bob made the one move that had more impact on my career than anything else that would ever happen. When I wandered into his Creative Department, he handed me some information he’d just received to write a commercial for a local appliance store, and told me to go ahead and write a 30-second spot. Thinking I was in way over my head, I spent the better part of a day working on those thirty seconds; and for whatever reason, Bob saw fit to get the commercial produced and put it on the air without any changes.

He then entrusted me with a huge box filled with dozens of cassettes, and several reels of tape; they were the finalists and the winners from competitions put on every year by the Radio Advertising Bureau and the Radio Bureau of Canada. Each tape had dozens of commercials on it, written in a variety of categories - national spots, local spots, 60-second commercials, 30-second commercials, spots for restaurants, spots for retailers, spots for car dealers, public service

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