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Campaign Private Hear

5 Dec

Today I was lucky enough to have one of my radio ads reviewed in Campaign. Of all the ads that ran this month, mine was one of the chosen six. Better still, I didn’t submit the ad to Campaign. Not only that, I hadn’t even told Campaign I had written the ad at the time they asked me for it. Why? It could be because of who my client is. The ad was for the UK churches and so the client, if you go up through everyone’s line manager’s line manager, is God. And we all know that He moves in mysterious ways. In reality, the client is someone who imagines what God might like, and what kind of advertising might make people like God. Campaign know that I regularly create a Christmas radio campaign for the church and they either hate these campaigns or love them so much (I haven’t asked) that every year, they put us forwards for a critical slating.

This year was no different. Our brief (as ever) is to retell the Nativity story. The reason for this is that an alarming number of people in our great nation do not know the story. Teenagers are the worst offenders – only 7% can actually tell you about Mary Joseph, shepherds et al. So rather than wring our hands and tell people off for letting go of such an important cultural (and spiritual) treasure, we just retell the story in an amusing way.

One reviewer simply retold the ad, which was odd, as the ad was a retelling of the nativity story, albeit through the medium of the Jeremy Kyle show. The second reviewer dedicated half of his review to the ad but questioned its “unfortunate racial overtones”  – the innkeeper speaks with a pronounced Middle Eastern accent. He seemed quite hung up on this but he also retold the Nativity story in his review. So, given the brief of “Retell the Nativity story”, I think we did quite well.

It’s always going to be tough advertising the church. It’s the world’s oldest client and everyone has been exposed to it at some point, and consequently feels they know it. Changing perceptions will take more than advertising, but in the meantime, if people are hearing about the Nativity story in amongst all the ads for John Lewis, KFC, M&S and the rest, we’re doing our job.


16 Apr

I am a huge fan of advertising on the radio. This does not mean I like radio adverts; for the most part, they suck. Around one in ten is bearable and around one in a hundred seems truly excellent. Most are dreck. I wanted to review an ad from Tfl which I like, and here is the other great difference between ads on TV and ads on the radio (the first being obvious): TV ads sit comforatbly on YouTube and, if they are great, on numerous blogs. A good radio ad is lucky to appear on the website of the agency which created it or the client which bought it.

And so it is with the Tfl ad. I searched Google in vain. I emailed Tfl but got no response. I even emailed the Radio Advertising Bureau – surely they could help? In the end I gave up waiting. The ad was simple – the Chariots of Fire theme tune played on car horns. We are told that there will be traffic disruptions around the Olympics and to go to the Tfl website to find out more. Not world changing but a small gem nonetheless. A one in ten.

The other ad, however, is lucky enough to appear on the website of its sponsor, an organisation called Armed Forces Day. I have no idea what Armed Forces Day is and the ad leaves me none the wiser. Listen to it yourself here:


It’s excruciating. Never have six ‘members of the public’ appeared so fake. A Caribbean woman says “I was reading about the Royal Navy stopping them drug smugglers, and I thought ‘good on you'”.  Which drug smugglers? And there’s a big difference between saying ‘good on you’ and wasting a day at an event to really get to understand how the Navy stops contraband entering the United Kingdom. And an even bigger difference between that and going on national radio telling people about it. Absolutely toe curling, along with the teenager whose granddad was in the War, ie, born around 1920. For real? How old are his parents? It’s only made more dreadful by being on so often.

The ad is so fake you wonder how genuine anything you see at the event will be. A lazy answer to a great brief that tells me nothing about Armed Forces Day and which makes me want to switch radio channels every time it comes on. A 99 in a 100.