“Repetition builds rhythm while reinforcing the theme.” Cummingsstudyguides.net

Or it takes up valuable air time in which you can otherwise depict imagery of your product in satisfied hands.




Must be the recent Valentine’s Day that got me to musing. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Three, four, five…suddenly, I realized I had taken a little mental walkabout while listening to a spot on the radio. I was actually counting the number of times the advertiser’s name appeared in the span of thirty seconds. (And running a little subconscious subtotal of the times they gave the phone number.)

I must confess, there was a scarcity of breadth and depth for my soul to reach for.

I had tuned out the spot, stopped paying attention to the story (if there was one), couldn’t tell you what the product did or what services the establishment offered. But I might possibly remember their name. I think that back in the day (and no, I won’t tell you which day. You may assign your own date and please, stop doing the math) there was a Class for Copywriters which dictated that a successful radio spot must have x number of mentions of the name which must first appear “y” number of seconds into the spot followed by “z” number of repeats of the phone number. A template for radio advertising. Which sadly resulted in spots which had all the pizazz of a paint-­by-­numbers rendering of a classic work of art. Technically all there. Completely devoid of heart.

Technically all there. Completely devoid of heart.

When we brainstorm spots, we pick a starting point. It can be stories from our pasts. It can be imagining the world without our hero advertiser. It can be what happens when you doggedly refuse to accept your need for a product. It starts with a world. That real people inhabit. And a story grows. And then magically it envelops our client. Not according to a formula for the mention of names and numbers, but something a little deeper. Something that will pull a listener in and make them want to stay with us. And listen again.

Truth be told, sometimes it takes a couple of times through with our spots to remember who and what and why we are advertising. That’s okay. We have time. Just like the inestimable Ms. Browning who gave herself a lifetime to discover just how much she loved her beloved. And btw, she never came up with an exact number of ways. She wasn’t really counting.


-Becky Bonar, Ranch Hand

Complete text of Sonnet 43 by EBB

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