I was recently taking a long drive and listening to the radio. I heard many radio commercials and so many were the same I worried the industry had lost its edge.

I heard commercials for bras, for suitcases, for pillows, all on Sirius digital radio as I drove. They were 100% the same formula.

Each commercial featured two founders talking (stiltedly) to each other about their wonderful company, listing benefits of their products and looking for support. They all finished with a cute sign off.

The ghost of Victor Kiam must be among us. He was the original owner/spokesman in a series of commercials for Remington razors created by Grey back in the 1980s, he outlined the benefits of his products that, he claimed, we so good he bought the company.

Who would have thought that this formula would have spread to so many entrepreneurs who wanted their ego satisfied as well as their pocketbook. We have written before about the conflict between ego and sales

Credibility is important in a successful commercial. The credibility of the source of a message has three components: trustworthiness, expertise and motivation. The owner of a company should elicit some expertise, but would also rank low on trustworthiness and motivation. Why would I trust someone who is going to benefit in my decision? Isn’t the owner of a company motivated to tell me whatever it takes to make a sale?

But ego starts to win and sales takes the back seat.

I have a similar bone to pick with TV advertising which stations an actor in front of the retail shelf filled with product who then reads the product strategy with little or no charm.  The actors are not believable. The actors change, the product on the shelf changes and the copy changes but the format is so rigid, it is a waste of the advertisers media money.

Both of these formats are sops to the advertisers egos.  They tell the advertisers story.  But they often miss the objective which is to be empathetic with potential purchasers and provoke, reveal and demonstrate the benefits of the product to the purchaser in a credible fashion.  The commercials are clearly the vendor hawking their goods with the motive of selling them.

Just because it looks like advertising, and it sounds like advertising, doesn’t mean it is effective advertising.  Contrary to the old Woody Allen line, 80% of success is just showing up – you do get some bang for your buck.  But you leave a lot of your money on the table.

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