This is the blog I swore I would never write. I think I was hoping the problem would resolve itself before I would have the opportunity to address it. Unfortunately it’s a problem that continues to persist, so here we go. I’ll try my best to keep this positive and not too ranty.

Does your advertising contain any of the following phrases?

  • act now
  • for all your ____ needs
  • spring/fall into savings
  • your ____ headquarters
  • two locations to serve you
  • conveniently located
  • for a limited time
  • here we grow again
  • the ultimate ____ experience
  • friendly, knowledgeable staff
  • won’t be undersold

If it does, you’re doing it wrong. Writing this way just screams ‘we don’t care’. But where does it come from?

Often it’s just a lack of resources. There wasn’t enough time or money to craft a proper message, so instead of producing something distinctive and effective, we get an ad that’s just quick and generic.

Sometimes it’s someone throwing money at a problem. They’re advertising for the sake of advertising. Buying ads without any strategy or vision is a huge waste.

Other times it comes from a lack of intrepidity and self-awareness. Many brands are afraid to stand out. They look around and just copy what everyone else is doing – picking up their bad habits. If you truly want to stand out, you should really take note of what everyone else is not doing.

It could also be that the brand never established its voice. Many brands think mono-sensory. They’ve only invested visually, so when it comes time to prepare something aural, they’re often unprepared. If a writing style hasn’t been established, the writer will most likely default to a generic style.

Many clichés are a vestige of old school radio. Radio (and media in general) used to be a communal activity. When you wrote a radio ad, you were often addressing a group. Of course this hasn’t been the case for a very long time, and with most media. Listening habits started changing with the advent of the Walkman back in the late 70s. Today media consumption is mostly an independent activity, which demands a different writing style. You’re talking to one person, and not a group.

That in-your-face approach is also just very out of style. If you want to make a genuine connection with your audience, you need to be human. You need to be relatable. Clichés not only put an emotional and intellectual distance between you and the listener, they also make your ad much easier to ignore. Instead of stepping out of the background, you become background noise.

Treat your ad as a story instead of a bullhorn. Draw your audience in. Make a connection. You wouldn’t talk to a friend using advertising clichés. Treat your audience with the same respect. As with most things I address, this problem can be circumvented with a comprehensive sound strategy. A sound strategy isn’t limited to instrumentation and which sound goes where. Language is a big part of your audio identity too. It’s best to decide at the brand level (and not the agency level) what your language and delivery style is going to be if you want to make a genuine connection.