Jamie Aplin is the CEO and co-founder of CreativeReady. It was his vision that set out to level the playing field between national market and independent radio, by providing small-to-medium sized radio stations access to national quality creative that’s affordable and available on-demand. He’s one of the creative minds behind the concept of “Stock Radio Content” which is currently only available at CreativeReady.com. His 15+ years of experience has made him an expert in digital branding, radio advertising and audio production. We hope you’ll appreciate the level of detail that goes into the creative process and his insight on how to develop a good idea into stock radio advertisements and jingles.
What exactly IS “Stock Radio Content?”
Jamie: The easiest way for me to describe it, is to use the parallel of Stock Photography. Ya’ll know what Stock Photography is, right? Instead of hiring a photographer to come and do a custom photoshoot, you visit your local (online) stock photography store, search the library of existing photos and download the one you want – all at a fraction of what it would cost you to hire the photographer. We’ve applied the same model to Radio Advertising Elements. So instead of contracting an ad agency (or doing it yourself for that matter), you can pull from our library of pre-produced radio ads, advertising jingles, script templates and pre-edited audio beds. We’ve basically gone ahead and created stock radio advertisements and jingles that all radio stations will find useful, and we make it affordable and available on-demand.
What are the main Stock Radio Elements you contribute to CreativeReady and which do you enjoy creating the most?
Jamie: I’m primarily involved in the creation of audio beds, jingles and radio campaigns – basically all things ‘radio’ related. With my professional background in music, I really enjoy being in the studio and anything to do with the production/recording process. Hearing a basic idea literally ‘come to life’ through voice, sound effects and music – is quite satisfying. I also really enjoy being in a room with other writers and bouncing ideas off one another. Starting with a concept, moving into script writing, then recording specs, right through to the final mix, is an extremely exhilarating process. It’s quite fun, even after all these years. Now I enjoy creating stock radio advertisements and jingles even more.
How did you first get into audio engineering and specifically radio advertising?
Jamie: Like I said, I started out in music, so the progression to radio seemed fairly natural. Touring professionally as a musician and collaborating with artists for a number of years, I frequently had access to recording studios, until I eventually started one myself. After a while, I took those skills, transitioned into the world of advertising and started up my own agency where we specialized in audio production and creative services. I later sold that agency to a much larger agency that focused primarily on custom radio creative. I worked for them as their Creative Director and it was during that time CreativeReady was conceptualized.
What’s your favourite style of advertising?
Jamie: I tend to enjoy a more ‘outside-the-box’, humorous approach to advertising. That’s just who I am and I find it speaks to me the most, so naturally, it’s where I go first. However, I do appreciate a good narrative or story-telling approach to an ad. I honestly appreciate all styles of advertising, just as long as it’s well polished. Endless script revisions, casting the right voice, proper sound design, the perfect audio track and a great mix – are all crucial elements when polishing an ad or campaign. Skip any of those steps and you’re not doing your job properly.
How do you know a radio campaign is compelling to its listener? What do you believe draws the listener in?
Jamie: Believability. Everyone has a ‘bull-$h!t’ radar and as soon as they sense something’s not genuine, you’ve lost them. For example, when you hear a car dealer ad urging you to ‘hurry into the dealership or you’ll never see these prices again….’ everyone knows that’s crap! Their ‘BS detector’ goes off because they know that any day of the week, they can walk into that same dealership, throw down a wad of cash and drive out with a vehicle for pretty much the same price as they were advertising on the radio. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to ‘tune out’ anyone on the radio who’s just throwing promotional pricing and sales event dates at you.
But when you hear a believable, honest or sometimes humorous approach to that same ad, you tend to want to turn up the volume in order to hear what they’re saying. Maybe it’s just me, but when you approach an audience with something conversational or with something that’s relatable, you’re more likely to bend their ear. At the end of the day, you want the listener hearing from you and your brand on a regular basis. When the time comes for them to be ‘in the market’, they’re going to think of you first as a trusted, credible source.
When you’re creating a jingle, what typically comes first – melody, instrumentation or lyrics?
Jamie: It’s always the ‘sell-line’ – also known as the branding statement. That’s the “I’m Lovin’ It” (McDonalds) or “I’m A Big Kid Now” (Huggies), etc. Once you’ve settled on a branding statement, you then need to translate it into a singable format, your melody. These two components together ARE your jingle – and it’s crucial that you get them right. Use a complicated ‘sell-line’ or something that’s not easily retained and you’ve missed your mark. Same goes for melody. If it’s not catchy or doesn’t have a ‘hook’ – it won’t stick in the listener’s brain. Once you have those nailed down, then you work on chord arrangement, instrumentation and full-on production. It’s fairly straight forward from that point on.
The trick is convincing the client that it’s not always in their best interest to sing their company name. For example, if the company is named “Anchor Bay Laser Vision & Eye Correction Center” – you probably shouldn’t be trying to put that into a singable format (laughs) – although it’s been done many times before. Instead, try to convince the client that it’ll be far more effective to build a campaign around a ‘generic’ branding statement such as “You’re Going To Love What You See”. This not only keeps their jingle memorable – but it reaches the audience far more than any business name ever could. It makes it all about the listener – NOT necessarily the business. Afterall, it’s the listener we’re trying to reach, isn’t it? They’re the ones we’re trying to evoke a response from.
In the creative process, where is most of your time spent?
Jamie: Coming up with GOOD ideas. There are plenty of ideas out there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are worthy of being produced into something. That’s why working as a team is important. Having a room full of ‘creatives’ is a very healthy environment to be in. If you can get past all of the ego, I recommend working in this format the majority of time. If you insist on writing alone, you’ll never be challenged on your ideas and most times think they’re great (even if they’re not).
You need to surround yourself with people who think and approach things differently than you do. This allows a healthy mix of opinion. If you can block a chunk of time to get a handful of writers (or even just ‘idea-people’) in the same room, you’ll be far more effective than locking yourself in a room, trying to come up with new ideas independently.
What is your favourite Stock Radio Advertisement and Jingle currently on CreativeReady.com?
Jamie: There’s a Mattress Store campaign called “Phil’s Mattress” and I absolutely love it! I actually didn’t even write it (laughs). It’s pretty simple but clever and it always make me laugh. If you’re able to put a smile on someone’s face after they’ve heard your ad, you’ve done something right. The whole point of a campaign is not for the listener to rush out to your store and buy whatever it is you’re selling, it’s to have them remember who you are and what you do. I think this particular campaign does a good job at that.
Talk about writing scripts, how does that process start?
Jamie: When sitting down to write anything, you need to be inspired. In the words of the Barenaked Ladies – ”It’s all been done….woo-hoo-hoo.” So finding inspiration in something that already exists, isn’t a bad thing. I like spending time listening to great ads and then pulling certain ideas from them. Then I’ll try to apply a similar approach to a campaign I’m working on. This becomes a great spring-board into my workflow. It never ends up the same as the original because we all think and interpret things differently. Inspiration can come from any creative medium like movies, books or music. These are all great resources in helping you stir the ‘creative pot’.
The key is, at least for me, getting your head outside your own ‘creative space’ from time to time. Drawing upon others who you feel have already done a fantastic job, is a great place to start.