Listening to Radio Commercials for Fun and Profit

Want to write better ads? Let these examples inspire you.

The finalists in the 2018 Radio Mercury Awards have been announced.

‘The 100 or so commercials that made the cut represent some of the best work being done in radio advertising today.

From this group, a dozen or two will emerge as national award-winners, taking home the coveted RMA “tube” and, in most cases, a substantial cash prize, as well.

It’s an honor for any ad writer to make it this far in the Radio Mercury competition, and an incomparable thrill to be announced a winner. I know.

I also know that most commercials that perform well at the cash register rarely win recognition at this level.

And ads that win awards sometimes don’t accomplish much more than that.

But when a commercial offers a compelling sales message wrapped in an entertaining story, it can achieve both.

Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s competition:

  • From FCB Chicago, this spot for Radio Flyer wagons (you had one, didn’t you?) entitled “Stinky Broccoli Forest.”
  • BarrettSF‘s spot for Exchange Bank, “Oxymoron,” turns this figure of speech into a plausible case for the bank’s “mix of tradition and the future.” If the bank is meeting or exceeding its customers’ expectations, this message ought to make ’em feel good about their choice.
  • “Bad Decisions” from Frederick Swanston for client Travel Centers of America/Minute Mart is a great example of what can be accomplished (with a chuckle) in just 15 seconds.
  • From agency Publicis, Charmin Shiny Hiney” might make the gentle Mr. Whipple blush just a bit. Not your grandfather’s Charmin spot, that’s for certain.

If you’re seeking inspiration to enliven your brand or sales message, you could do a lot worse than to listen to the great work found in the Radio Mercury Awards’ online archives. 

Congratulations to all of this year’s RMA finalists.

About Rod Schwartz 66 Articles
Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He became sales manager for the Pullman Radio Group in 1979 and served in that position until 2006. He continues to serve clients in the region as the stations’ senior account executive. Since 1991, Rod and his family have operated Grace Broadcast Sales, providing short-form syndicated radio features to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at