Forums » The Round Table: Brainstorming & Problem-solving

What If Radio Charged for Copywriting and Production?

    • 1112 posts
    February 14, 2019 10:23 PM PST

    What if...

    ...instead of providing copywriting and production services as a FREE (or "value added") buyout, we licensed our spots to advertisers for the duration of their advertising schedules?

    ...we offered a second license for rebroadcast on other stations for an appropriate fee, with terms and limitations clearly spelled out and legally binding upon the other stations, providing legal remedies for non-compliance?

    ...we stipulated that copywriting/production services involving 30 minutes or less would be provided at no charge, but more complex projects (e.g., interviews-edited-into-commercials, hiring professional voice talent other than station personnel, campaigns involving multiple spots within the flight, etc.) would be charged on a mutually agreed-upon basis, whether by the hour or by the spot?

    Would the quality of our work improve?

    Would we be more willing to invest whatever time, effort, and talent it took to create truly engaging commercials and campaigns?

    If we accepted the premise that "A thing is worth what you pay for it." (Jim Williams), or that "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value." (Thomas Paine), might we agree that our "free creative services" often result in hastily written, unremarkable, and non-engaging commercials?

    Your thoughts?

  • February 18, 2019 9:41 PM PST

    Well, you're basically proposing that stations act as though they are agencies.  The question then becomes, are said stations offering 'expanded' services from qualified individuals, or just extra work from sales reps who are trying really hard to do more?

    When you get to agency-level spots, you're talking dedicated writers, producers, licensed (and paid) voice talents, etc.  A lot of stations still have sales reps 'writing' their spots.  I find that's very common in the US, whereas in Canada most stations actually have creative departments (even if it's only one writer/producer) that are separate entities from sales.  Some sales folks may write a pretty good spot once in a while, but most of the time they're just giving the client what the client thinks they want ... which is something that sounds like - AN AD!  So they jam in all that locally owned, friendly staff, conveniently located, blah blah blah blah blah.  To charge extra for that stuff would be a crime, and a reason to spend their ad dollars elsewhere.

    Let's expand on the questions then - what if the SPOT RATES were lowered to allow for a production fee to be a separate line item without making any drastic changes to the overall prices being paid?  Ultimately advertisers won't see a jump in costs, or a reduction in frequencies, but may place more value on the work that goes into creating their ads in the end.  Then tack on surcharges for special voice requests, multi-voice ads, and re-takes after script approvals.  What would THAT look like?