Never Let a Client Voice Their Spot – Radio Share

Never let a client voice nor appear in his own commercial!

If you sell or write for radio or television, it should be your sworn duty never to let a client write, voice, or appear in his or her own television commercial. I can think of almost nothing that works against the effectiveness of a commercial more than this does.

Over three decades I have heard only one owner-voiced commercial that was good (meaning effective), and it was quite excellent, every bit as good as a top agency could do. But the owner, who had a lumber business in Pennsylvania, also happened to be an actor and an excellent writer for the stage. He was utterly convincing. He made you want to do business with him. He made you like and trust him.

Owners who voice their own ads (and especially folks who appear in their own TV commercials) do nothing but embarrass themselves. It actually makes you squirm in your seat to see or hear them.

They believe a commercial should look and sound “like a commercial” – over-excited, high-pitched, incredibly badly-written. On TV they use crudely-executed gestures and overly-broad smiles, believing this generates excitement. But what they accomplish is to insult the viewer or listener, inadvertently treating him as if he were 4 years old.

In my local market, there’s a car dealer in his own ad who says, at the end, swinging his arm in an exaggerated pointing gesture, “I GUARANTEE IT!” What would you or I think if a friend were telling us about about something he finds exciting, and he swung his arm, pointed to us and said, loudly, “I GUARANTEE YOU’LL LIKE IT!” We’d think he was joking. If a businessperson did that to us in his store, we’d think he was crazy.

The broadcast outlets bear a lot of responsibility, because first, they let the client do it instead of having the backbone to stand up to them and say “This will not bring you business,” and second, there are no directors on their staffs. It is no different from opening a flying school with no instructors and expecting students (in this case, clients) to teach themselves how to fly an aircraft.

Knowing that a client may want to voice his own ad, I developed a directing technique that gets an owner or testimonial customer to sound natural and believable. I use this to good success.

And I tell no one how I do it 🙂

-Mike Holmes

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