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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Writing Commercials Is Hard

Posted by on July 12 at 9:33 AM

About six weeks ago, The Stranger started running ads on Air America Radio.

Designed to hype the content of each week’s new issue, the text of these ads is written by Savage and me, then recorded by Air America professionals. This sounds simple, but as the early ads made clear, writing text to be delivered by someone else is sometimes freakishly hard, and opens up a whole treacherous world of misunderstood ‘jokes’ and delivery-specific wit.

For example, last month we ran an ad hyping the annual Queer Issue. The original ad text included the word “homos,” which the Air America folk said was off-limits, so we changed it to the allowable “homosexuals.” The result was one of the creepiest radio ads in history, with our queer-soaked text falling from a foreign tongue, whose pronunciation of the word “homosexuals” makes me feel so dirty I want to bash myself. Listen for yourself here.

But thing soon got better, as we figured out what kind of words would sound the least weird coming from this professional mouth. (Hint: If the voice sounds like a barker for a monster truck rally, arrange text accordingly.)