I can see it in my clients’ eyes before they begin to speak. “How about writing an ad where two people are talking…”
Dialogue ads more dangerous than sweating dynamite. There are too many ways they can blow up on you. One ad, currently airing on Milwaukee radio goes something like this:
1st Woman: I’ll have a double decaf organic café mocha, extra cocoa, froth heated to 140 degrees served on the side.
2nd Woman: Wow you sure know how you like your coffee.
1st Woman: Yes, now if I could only find replacement windows I’d like.
2nd Woman: We installed (Brand Name Windows)
1st Woman: (Brand Name) Windows?
2nd Woman: Yes, they’re energy efficient…blah blah blah and they come in styles and sizes for every home. We installed the Hazy Daze model blah blah blah and competitive priced with ordinary vinyl windows.
STOP THE INSANITY.
Problem 1. The conversation isn’t real. Unless you happen to sell replacement windows a particular model name will never come up in casual conversation. Windows are view in much the same way as say furnaces.
“Hey Bob your house sure is nice and cozy!”
“Thanks Sue, we’re always cozy thanks to our HeatBlaster 2000 from Twane!”
I don’t even call my cat by name, I’m sure as heck not going to use the name or model number of the windows in a conversation. I’d be lucky to remember if the manufacturer was Pella, Andersen or Bob’s Window.
Problem 2. People generally write in complete sentences but speak in phrases. We talk over each other we interrupt and speak at a relatively rapid pace. Very few ad writers master the art of dialogue. That is why most of these ads sound “wrong.”
Problem 3. Most ads (locally produced) are “read” by announcers rather than “performed” by actors. There is very little connection or interaction between the characters.
I read my line.
You read yours.
Then it’s my turn again.
There’s no spark, no life, no realism, no reason to listen.
Radio is intimate. Even stage actors have difficulty playing to microphone when they’ve trained their voice to reach the back of the house. A dialogue ad should be written as something overheard in a restaurant, an elevator or a commuter train. Your actors should focus on each other not the audience.
I’m sure there are good dialogue ads around, but for the life of me I can’t think of any great ones. If you would like to make a nomination click here. In the meantime, take the following to heart:
WARNING – ADS USING DIALOGUE ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. SIDE EFFECTS MAY INCLUDE, HEADACHE, LOSS OF HEARING, BOREDOM, DISBELIEF AND A POOR IMAGE FOR YOUR BUSINESS.