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March 26, 2011
Gone Corporate: Marketing Killed the Radio Star
 
In an endless stream of email alerts (that aren’t nearly as “urgent” as one might think) and feature articles about successful co-workers (that just make you jealous), a client-side copywriter doesn’t have many projects to get excited about.

But one day, a shining beacon of light infiltrates the dark gray clouds. Beaming brightly upon your PC (no Macs for you, corporate shill) with all of its brilliant, SFX-y goodness comes...the radio spot.

Of course, this isn’t any old radio spot. It comes with a few strings attached and features some seriously heavy baggage—in this particular case:

1) I WILL NOT produce the spot. No trips to the studio with brought-in lunches. No “sorry, heading to record the spot” escapes from meetings. No bossing around engineers who have dealt with countless other hacks and would rather be re-mixing their Foreigner cover band’s demo for the 25th time.

2) It’s “read-only.” For the uninitiated, that means you have no control over WHO reads the spot. Nine times out of ten, it’s a DJ or a producer who will either read the lines WAY over the top (obnoxious) or bore you with a monotone (yawn). And you might suggest some sound effects or a music bed, but those suggestions will likely go unheeded. What do you expect from unpaid “talent” anyway?

3) There are some “mandatory inclusions.” Oh yeah, things that I absolutely have to incorporate in the spot. Including a lame, pre-existing campaign concept developed long before I joined the Dark Si.. er, company. So not only do I have to find a non-hacky connection between the event we’re sponsoring and what my company actually does, I have to squeeze in this nonsensical concept that the CMO cooked up a year ago. (And oh by the way, he was a copywriter “in a former life.”)

4) Make sure everyone “signs off” on it. So first, my boss reviews and makes a minor change. That’s cool, she’s cool. But then the ridiculousness begins. Off to one of our marcom managers, who forwards to our sponsorship person. She has some thoughts. So I have to make changes until she’s happy, even though she’s making mostly subjective changes and not factual ones. (That always gets me.) And finally, on to the VP, who is mostly OK but wants a slightly different direction. (Start over, Champ.)

Eventually, everyone is happy and the script goes off to be butchered by the radio station. Well, not everybody is happy...but hey, it beat writing emails for a while, didn’t it? (Don’t answer that.)

NEXT TIME: My all-consuming bitterness grows exponentially. (Just kidding. We’ll chat about working as a corporate hack in an area of the city that’s full of agencies that wouldn’t hire me.)

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After a year of creative incarceration in Corporate World, your beloved Corporate Hack finally distracted the guards, outran the bloodhounds and scaled the wall to make his escape. Now that he’s back where he belongs in Ad World, he’s re-branded himself as The Inside Man...but he’s still having Ad-Verse Reactions. 
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