Copywriting tips: 5 mistakes to avoid in radio commercials

Adjusting the volume of her car radio while seated behind the whAs promised, this is the sequel to my first article about writing better radio commercials, with some more advice to consider when putting together an advert for the airwaves.

Last time I talked about making sure your radio commercials are not banal, cringeworthy or annoying by adding realistic characters, a plot and character humour. Another way of improving your radio ad copywriting and making commercials that are truly ear-catching is to avoid these 5 often-made mistakes…

Mistake 1: Not using your product or business name enough

You obviously can’t keep repeating name of the product, service or business you are selling; that will be obvious and annoying to listeners. But if you don’t mention it enough, particularly at the end (and if appropriate, at or near the beginning), then listeners will not remember you or your product. Remember that your radio advert is about creating brand awareness as much as it is about selling.

Mistake 2: Bad or unclear jingles

Radio advertisers like to add jingles to their commercials because they want to create a mood and engender a feeling of wellbeing in listeners. Depending on the nature of the advert and the strength of your headlines, an advert without a jingle can sometimes sound a bit sparse.

At the same time, jingles are a dangerous tool. Some jingles are so cheesy that they annoy people and leave them with the wrong impression of a brand. (Of course, some radio and TV commercials use deliberately and overtly annoying jingles to great effect, such the Go Compare ads.) Other jingles are so catchy and friendly to the ear that the message contained in the lyrics is lost. After all, many people don’t listen to the lyrics of a song. They just hear the tune.

First you need to ask yourself if you actually need a jingle, or if a decent plot, characters, headlines and some background music will do instead. Then you should make sure your jingle is clear, i.e. the lyrics are easy to understand and the instrumentation does not take over the song. You also need to make sure the jingle itself doesn’t take over the commercial.

Mistake 3: Forgetting to include your call to action

What do you want listeners to do when they hear your radio commercial? You need to decide exactly what the purpose of your commercial is, and make sure you communicate this call to action clearly and succinctly.

Since radio ads are short and preceded and followed by other ads, make sure your sales message is contained in the last words your listeners hear. This could be the location of your shop or showroom, online booking details, or dates and times for upcoming events.

Mistake 4: Including a barrage of terms and conditions at the end

The ultra-fast voice that appears at the end of radio commercials and recites a barrage of terms and conditions really does diminish the impact of the ad. It says: “This offer/discount has so many caveats that we need to talk at an insanely rapid pace to fit them all in”—which is not the impression you want to have on listeners.

Try and find out exactly what your legal obligations are when you create your ad. If what you’re offering really is tied to that many conditions, then radio is not the right medium for promoting it.

Mistake 5: Misusing humour

Humour is even more dangerous than the jingle. What might seem hilarious to you could fall completely flat on someone else. Make sure the humour you use is character-based, rather than slapstick or some kind of overly complicated joke. And test it on others to make sure you haven’t written something cheesy or dated.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. And if you need any help with radio ad ideas or scriptwriting, please contact me on 07411 331721 or You can also check out my Services page for more detail on the copywriting and proofreading services I offer.


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