Well, the hoopla and hype of the Super Bowl is over now, and as always, it was about the commercials as much as the game. USA Today again ran its Ad Meter poll to see which commercials viewers like best. Commercials were part of the water cooler talk on Monday morning. And web surfers checked out sites devoted to Super Bowl advertising.

TV advertising, that is. I didn’t read or hear anything about the ads on radio coverage of the big game. In fact, I never hear anything about radio ads at all (except when listeners say our clients play too many).

What ever happened to radio advertising? Where is the creativity? Where is the imagination? I’m certainly not hearing any. Today’s radio advertising is pretty much limited to hard sell pitches and trite jingles. If there is humor, it’s pretty much on this level:

WIFE: Honey, why did you buy this big bag of dog food???

HUSBAND: Because it was on sale.

WIFE: But we don’t have a dog.


It doesn’t have to be this way. I am a true believer in the power of radio. Radio, it was once said, is the “theater of the mind.” The images it can conjure up are powerful, because the listener constructs those images in his or her head. That’s how listeners can imagine fat, ugly DJs as Brad or Angelina lookalikes (as long as those jocks stay away from public appearances)!

Years ago, the creators of radio ads (often account execs or the traffic person) understood the power of their medium. Creating cool ads was a way for them express their creativity and do a great job for clients. And it wasn’t just happening in big markets…

For example, when I worked in Wichita, I remember hanging out one afternoon, checking out the competition, when a sultry female voice came on:

That thing between your legs isn’t working too well, is it? Maybe that’s because you didn’t use it much over the winter…

It was for a motorcycle repair shop.

OK, maybe that’s not award winning copy, but I still recall it 30 years later. On the other hand, I could not tell you about even one radio ad I heard on the way to work this morning. (And, no, I wasn’t listening to Sirius.)

Over its history, radio has had true advertising geniuses. First among them was Stan Freeberg. Google him and check out his work. The Freeberg ad burned in my memory portrayed a ten-story-high hot fudge sundae being created in the middle of Lake Michigan. I could really visualize that sundae.

Who’s doing that kind of work today?

Sometimes, I fear becoming a curmudgeon, talking or writing about how much better things used to be. No, I’m not ready to move into Andy Rooney territory just yet. But radio advertising really was better — much better — years ago.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Radio advertising can (at least some of the time) add interest and entertainment value to your station. And, given the level of competition you face today, that would be a very good idea.