(Tim Miles is reliving the best and worst parts of the summer of 1977 – attempting to visit 14 states in 14 days with his family and only Pringles, Hawaiian Punch, and spray cheese for provisions. He’s banned iPads and is forcing his family to enjoy car bingo, the license plate game, AM radio, and the occasional 8-track tape. In his absence, Ryan Patrick has the conn.)
You’ve heard it said a thousand different ways.
“Mention this ad and get a free can coozie with any purchase.”
“Tell us you heard this commercial and get free undercoating when you buy your new car.”
“Say you heard us on WKRP and we’ll throw in a free styrofoam cooler for your minnows!”
I refer to this cliche as a Radio Coupon. You see them on TV commercials, too.
But it’s not just a cliche – it’s the business owner’s misguided attempt to accurately gauge the effectiveness of their broadcast advertising.
Our partner and mentor, Roy Williams, says:
Anyone who has sold radio for longer than 10 minutes knows that saying, “Mention you heard this radio ad and receive 10 percent off,” doesn’t work. My theories are:
1) It makes people feel like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of porridge, and..
2) Listeners worry that they’re going to say “I heard your radio ad,” and some mouth-breathing employee is going to say, “What ad?” Then your listener’s got a real problem: If they say, “The one that says I get 10 percent off,” they risk Mouth Breather saying with a snort and a sneer, “Nice try.” Or worse, M-B throws his head back and shouts across the store, “Ralphy! Do you know anything about a radio ad that says this guy gets 10 percent off?”
This reminds me of an exchange in the Seinfeld episode, “The Glasses”:
KRAMER: You know you ought to do? Go see my friend Dwayne at J & T Optical and Columbus Avenue. He’ll give you thirty percent off.
GEORGE: Yeah, come on.
JERRY: Hey, he just got me thirty percent off on an air conditioner.
KRAMER: Retail is for suckers.
GEORGE: Wow. What do I have to do?
KRAMER: You just gotta mention my name.
GEORGE: That’s it?
KRAMER: That’s it.
[location: J & T Optical]
(George hands over the prescription)
DWAYNE: What about him?
GEORGE: You do know Kramer?
GEORGE: Well, I’m mentioning his name.
GEORGE: Because… you know…
DWAYNE: No, I don’t know. Look, I’m gonna need a deposit on these.
“Mention This Ad” rarely works. I won’t go so far as to say it never works, because there is always someone somewhere who will do whatever necessary to save a few pennies or snag something for free.
But if the client is measuring success based on how many customers mentioned the ad, get ready to hear “I tried radio advertising and it didn’t work”.
Do us all a favor. Leave coupons to the newspaper.