The following is a review of five selected radio advertisements. Each advertisement has been chosen from Advertising Educational Foundation’s Ad Award Archives. Click on each ad link below or scroll down to review the analysis of each ad.
Advertisement 1: Forest Lawn Cemeteries, Start the Conversation
Advertisement 2: Coke Zero, Lawyer’s Victim
Advertisement 3: Vocal ID, Know My Voice
Advertisement 4: The Humane Society, I’m Going to Die
Advertisement 5: Citibank, Too Old
Advertisement 1: Forest Lawn Cemeteries, 2015
“Start the Conversation”
About the Advertisement:
This thirty-second radio advertisement captures a brief conversation between a man and a woman, presumably husband and wife, who finally start the conversation about securing cemetery property. The share how difficult it was to get “the conversation” started, but feel good about taking care of those decisions before death. The “conversation” section between the couple lasts approximately 15 seconds, which is followed by a 15-second call to action to call or visit the website for a free information kit about pre-need services.
The advertisement subtly uses the emotions of fear and comfort — fear of death and personal peace of mind — that comes with being prepared for at least one aspect of one’s passing.
The aim of this advertisement is to encourage couples to “start the conversation” about planning for death. It acknowledges how difficult those conversations can be, but suggests a sense of peace that comes with having things taken care of in advance.
More specifically, Forest Glen wants the listener to “start the conversation” with their company. It would seem the long-term objective of the campaign would be to sell more cemetery plots and pre-need services.
Given the subject matter of cemetery plots and pre-need planning, it seems the target market is individuals age 50+, or primarily baby boomers.
Call to Action:
The response objective—to start the conversation—are somewhat measurable because Forest Lawn’s call to action is to call or visit the website to request more information. If the listener were to call or visit the website, the audience might be asked if the engagement was in response to a particular advertisement. If the call-in number were specific to the ad, then the ad would indeed be measurable. However, no specific landing page (e.g., forestlawn.com/start) is given, so the response measurement for online would be subjective. Of course, the campaign might have been running only during a certain time-frame, in which Forest Glen assumed all responses were from the campaign.
Forest Glen might then determine the sales conversion for the campaign by calculating how many of those who responded subsequently purchased a plot or other pre-need services.
Forest Glen can help you with your funeral and burial planning in advance, thereby giving you the peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out as desired, and your family will not have the burden of these decisions
Advertisement 2: Coke Zero, 2008
About the Advertisement:
This 34-second advertisement has the tone of a personal injury attorney radio advertisement. The spot begins with an “attorney”, Ed Covet of the law firm Covet & Yourmoney, asking listeners if when drinking Coke Zero they encountered “real Coca-Cola taste.” Mr. Covet suggests that if this is indeed the case, the listener may be a victim of “taste confusion,” a situation that comes when the listener is “recklessly refreshed by the real taste of Coke” when drinking Coke Zero. Moreover, Mr. Covet believes this is wrong, and if the listener is a victim, the call to action is to call 1-877-SUE-ZERO.
The advertisement evokes dark humor, suggesting that the listener might have been harmed by Coca Cola’s taste trickery. Doing so reinforces the claim that Coke Zero tastes so much like original Coca-Cola the listener might be fooled into thinking they’re not drinking a calorie-free soft drink.
The aim of the advertisement seems to be to inform non-Coke Zero drinkers that the product has a remarkably similar taste to the original Coca-Cola and encourage trial. By offering a calorie-free option with that same great Coca-Cola taste, it appears sales growth of the product is also a key objective.
While I was unable to identify sales data from the period surrounding the advertisement, it would seem the campaign did indeed contribute to sales growth. Diet Coke, Coke Zero’s intra-company product competitor, was seemingly displaced in 2015 as a leader in low-calorie soft drinks. For the 4th quarter 2015, Coca-Cola reported Coke Zero sales increased 7% while Diet Coke and Coke Light declined by 5% (Bomey, 2016).
The target market for the advertisement appears to be individuals who are calorie conscious, yet enjoy the taste of original Coca-Cola. More specifically, this market might include those who are still drinking original Coca-Cola but need to reduce calorie consumption from soft drinks, as well as those who do not like the taste of Coca Cola’s diet soft drinks and who might have switched to a competitive diet product. An additional market might be those who have left soft drinks behind because of the calories and taste who might now be tempted to sample Coke Zero and possibly become a new customer.
Call to Action:
The call to action for the advertisement is to encourage sampling Coke Zero on the basis of its taste similarity to original Coca-Cola.
Note: This is an older commercial. I did try to call the number to determine any further call to action; however, the phone number was not in service. It might have been that this number provided some coupon code or perhaps another way for the individual to sample Coke Zero at no cost. It may well have also been just a gimmick to promote the product without any sampling offer further.
Coke Zero has the same great taste of original Coca-Cola but without the associated calories.
Advertisement 3: Vocal ID, 2015
“Know My Voice“
About the Advertisement:
Know my Voice is roughly a one-minute radio advertisement that begins with computerized voice assumed to be that Stephen Hawking. The advertisement tells us about all of the things Professor Hawking has said using this voice and then, about 30-seconds into the commercial we learn that the speaker is Katie Johnson, a 12-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy. A female voice over announcer takes over and explains that more than 2.4 million Americans can only choose from a handful of computerized voices to speak. The announcer goes on to tell us that Vocal ID is gathering “voice donations” provide the seeds for the millions with speech disabilities their own vocal identity.
The advertisement evokes compassion for those with speech disabilities who are unable to have their own “voice.”
The goal of the ad is to encourage individuals to donate their voice to provide the basis for the creation of vocal identities for those who are unable to speak for themselves and need the aid of computerized voices. Given the press and apparent growth of Vocal ID’s Voice Bank, it would appear that the advertisement has positive metrics (Vocal ID Staff, n.d.)
The target market for this ad is very broad. advertisementAnyone who has a voice can participate in the project and make a difference in the life of someone who is has a speech disability.
Call to Action:
The call to action is for the listener to visit the company’s website to learn more about the program and how the listener might donate his or her voice. It is a powerful call to action because it pulls at the heart of anyone who can speak. It encourages those with a voice to help give voice to others with just a few hours of time from the comfort of home.
VocalID, with your help, gives vocal identities to those who are unable to speak for themselves.
Advertisement 4: The Humane Society, 2014
“I’m Going to Die“
About the Advertisement:
The 60-second ad begins someone saying, “Tomorrow, I’m gonna die. A stranger is going to take me into a room, jab a needle in my side, and just stand there. Watching me as my eyes grow heavy and I take one, last, breath.” As the advertisement continues, it becomes more clear that the voice is that of an animal talking about the process of euthanasia because there are so many animals on the street, the shelters fill up, and with low adoption rates, the shelters have little choice but to euthanize. The “voice” considers himself lucky because if he weren’t “dying inside a warm, cozy, room, I’d be out on the street, scared and alone.” The last words are, “I just wish someone had taken me home.” A new announcer voices the final 15-seconds of the advertisement noting that millions of pets die each year through euthanasia and encourage the listener to “save a life” and adopt a pet through the local Humane Society.
The advertisement plays to the fear of death, and compassion of individuals who care about the plight of abandoned dogs and cats.
The purpose of the ad is to encourage people to adopt abandoned pets from the Humane Society. It pulls hard on the heart strings using the euthanasia angle; however, it seems to be ineffective.
Pet advocacy groups suggest roughly eight million animals are in pet shelters each year and close to fifty percent are euthanized (Humane Society for Shelter Pets Staff, n.d.). More specifically, half of all dogs and approximately 70% of all cats are euthanized because the are not adopted (Humane Society for Shelter Pets Staff). This would suggest the advertisement may not be effective in achieving its objective of adoptions.
The target market for this advertisement are those considering getting a dog or cat, as well as animal lovers in general.
Call to Action:
The call to action is for the listener to visit their local Humane Society shelter and adopt a pet.
Millions of pets will die each year if they are not adopted by people like you.
Advertisement 5: Citibank, 2012
About the Advertisement:
This 60-second advertisement begins with an announcer saying, “When you start your stories with, ‘Back in my day…’, that’s too old to be still paying your student loans.” The advertisement continues with successively humorous examples of things older people might do, closing each one with “that’s too old to be still paying your student loans.” Near the end of the advertisement, a different announcer comes in and offers that it’s still possible to pay off student loans when “you’re still young” by redeeming Citi banking points to make payments toward your loan, thereby helping to reduce the amount of debt. The first announcer returns for one last comment, “And if you fell asleep while listening to this radio spot, that’s definitely too old. And a little bit insulting.”
The advertisement uses humor to tap into a sense of urgency to pay off student loans so that the burden does not continue into older age.
The apparent purpose of the advertising is to encourage the use of Citi points to pay down student loan debt. However, to accumulate points, one has to use a Citi credit card to pay for merchandise and services. Therefore, the advertisement’s primary objective is likely to be to encourage additional spending via Citi credit cards. It is unclear as to whether the ad was effective.
The target market for this ad is those who have student loans or those who might have children or grandchildren with student loans.
Call to Action:
The call to action is for the listener to visit the company’s points website to learn more about the program. Presumably, a secondary call is for the audience to secure a Citi credit card if they do not have one.
Citi will help you reduce your student loan debt.
Image Source: Getty Images, Monty Fresco
Bomey, N. (2016, February 9). Coca-Cola profit up as growth of Sprite, Coke Zero offset Diet Coke drop. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from usatoday.com: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/02/09/coca-cola-fourth-quarter-earnings/80044994/
Humane Society for Shelter Pets Staff (n.d.). Facts and Statistics about Pet Shelters. Retrieved March 23, 2017, from humaneforpets.com: http://www.humaneforpets.com/resources/facts-and-statistics-about-animal-shelters/
Vocal ID Staff (n.d.). Press. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from vocalid.com: https://www.vocalid.co/press
Last Updated on October 5, 2017 by David Harkins
David Harkins is a business strategist, speaker, and teacher.
He is the founder and executive consultant at David Harkins Company. In his spare time, he writes hikes, explores, and creates art. Although, not necessarily in that order.
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I think my personal favorite was the Citibank radio advert. I think it’s a great advertisement to target those who are young, maybe even freshly out of college, who started working and will soon be paying back student loans. The first thing people want when they graduate from college is independence! No longer needing mom and dad is important to a lot of new grads, so supplementing mom & dad with a credit card is a great option! You can build credit and gain independence at the same time. Citibank was smart by targeting these folks and offering an option to help pay off student debt. I’ll start owing money as soon as I finish this masters program…and I may look into that Citibank card that will help me pay off my student loans. Having a lot of debt can affect how much money you can get to buy a house, your credit score…and many other factors. So, to me, Citibank isn’t just offering me a credit card…it’s offering help. That’s why that ad was so great! Also, it was very funny and made me laugh…so it probably aired on stations that cater to younger listeners as well.
Thanks, Alex. I appreciate your take on the Citibank ad. So often we think about debt as a bad thing. But, if managed properly, it can be quite an asset. A real estate friend told me many years ago the goal in business is to “keep your reputation clean and your credit green.” Good advice, I think.
Love it David, and now I have a better idea of how I need to attack the next blog post. I thought going over all the items asked seemed kind of silly (some things are just too obvious) but now see, it is required, and it is all in the presentation of the points we are sharing. I did go and explore VocaliD and plan on donating my voice/time to the organization!
Thanks! I am glad my work could help you think differently about your approach. I like VocalID, too, and I may well donate my voice soon.
You chose a variety of different ads, which was interesting to read and listen to via the links. These ads showed a broad range of different areas in your analysis reviews from target markets to value propositions. The first ad for “Start the Conversation” is short and to the point about what it is advertising. Your analysis of this ad shows good detail. This shows the radio advertisement does not need to be long to get across to the viewer what your product is about; it just needs to be clear. The second ad for “Lawyer’s Victim” was interesting how it took as you said, “dark humor” and Coca Cola’s taste trickery and created a victim situation for a soft drink. Your analysis was excellent, and I like how you tried to call the phone number. Your thinking of what this number might offer was eye opening to me because I did not think this way until I read your analysis. The third ad was new to me. I did not know there were such limited choices for computerized voices for people with speech disabilities. Your review is great, and I also liked how you further researched how long it takes to donate and where because these were some questions I had during the ad. The Fourth ad for “I’m Going to Die” was emotional for me, which as you said in your analysis under objective. Your review for this ad is very well done. I was astonished at the facts you included in your objective and the percentage of animals who are euthanized yearly. I also liked how you took a different view of the objective about the high number of euthanized animals and how the ad may not be useful. The fifth ad for “Too Old” is funny and relatable for me, which shows they could reach their target market. Your analysis is accurate and clear. Great job on all the radio ad reviews you completed. Thank you.
Thanks! I wanted to show some diversity in my selection of commercials, as I believe it’s interesting to investigate different objectives and calls to action in advertising. I am pleased to read that you enjoyed the analysis.
Your first ad, it’s extremely simple and to the point. I almost said sweet, but it feels slightly odd to describe that one in particular as sweet. Plus, one can only hope that the target market for this particular ad is 50+ of age, if not older.
For your second ad, the one on Coke Zero, I found your analysis very informative. In all honesty, I was not really understanding the radio ad completely, to the point of it pretty much going over my head and being lost on me completely. Your analysis helped me to better understand it. You have made me wish my dad would consider trying Coke Zero. He is very much an individual that drinks one Diet Coke on a daily basis, it has become a part of his daily routine, unfortunately.
Your third ad was extremely powerful and is amazing to think that there is such a database that exists. Our world has become one where there are so many people working towards solving the problems of everyone else, and occasionally asking for the assistance of others. Sometimes with something as simple as donating your own voice so that someone else can speak. It definitely had me considering it.
I seriously considered writing about your fourth ad as one of my five, but I chose not too. I have always been really big in knowing what’s going on in the realm of animal rescue. It was honestly a slight relief that this ad wasn’t the general ASPCA style ad that everyone changes the channel on as soon as it comes to that on commercial break because, unfortunately, no one wants to deal with the sadness and potential guilt that comes with them. Not that this one makes someone feel any better. Taking you through the thought process and feelings of an animal that is about to be euthanized, that is rough.
Your fifth one left me slightly confused. I enjoyed the humor in it all, but it was bizarre to me that they are suggesting themselves, Citibank, as a solution to student loan debt problems. Which, in reality, that sounds more like, pay off your student loans so you’re no longer in debt to the government, so that you can be in debt with us, Citibank, so that we can “own you” for the rest of your life. Yay!
Thanks for your feedback, Chelsea.
Each spot deployed a different objective with its use of emotion, wouldn’t you agree? My favorite was the VoiceID, too. I had heard about this service a few months ago on NPR, so I was surprised to find an advertisement that was a few years old. I am considering donating my voice to the project, too!
Although I care for animals, the Humane Society Ad pulled at my heart strings less than it might pull at others. Frankly, I found it to be a bit over the top in trying to get its point across. And in doing so, I thought it was a bit distasteful.
David, great analyses! Seriously… you approached this the same way I did. I wrote nearly 400-500 words for each analysis. Time consuming, but thoughtful – for sure! Thank you for this. The Coke Zero analysis is an interesting one. You did a great job making sense/meaning of the commercial. The thing I struggle with, with this product is when it comes to flavor, close (or similar) is almost useless. I am not sure if you agree, you know? I realize the calorie piece is at play… and reducing calories without reducing intake is a “good” thing… but for me… I am always committed to the flavor of what I am tasting – you know? Anyway – not as much to do with your analysis, which was SPOT ON, but more to do with the fact that for me, no amount of marketing angles will reframe a version of Coke with a slightly different flavor being of any use to me. Thank you though, again, thank you for your spot on analysis!
I’m glad to see we’re on the same path about our approach to the radio ad analysis. Yes, it is time-consuming, but I find it oddly enjoyable. I agree that taste and flavor are subjective. Working that into the spot as a primary focus narrows the audience, I think. Because the focus was so much on taste, I believe they were not trying to encourage trial from Pepsi or Dr. Pepper lovers, but rather to win back Coke fans who have given up the drink due to dieting.
Personally, I quit drinking soda’s years ago. When I drank them, I found Coke to be too sweet. But, this commercial made me wonder if Coke Zero tasted as sweet. Still, I’m not rushing out to try it. 😉