Total Recall

Mark Gregory experiences a moment of complete radio clarity.

I was worried that I may have made a right knob of myself quite recently!

Matthew - our MD and I, were at a first meeting with a prospective new national client. This get-together was taking place in the pristine environs of the lobby café in a brand new hotel, and our man and his marketing assistant had just asked me to trawl back through the mists of time and tell them what I thought was the best radio commercial I’d ever heard.

“Oh that’s easy”! I blurted out. “My favourite radio ad is so great, that not only can I tell you what it is, I can actually act it out for you right now”

Yes, the ad I had in mind was so effective, that I could actually remember it…. word for word, thirty-odd years after it was first broadcast.

The marginally uncomfortable quizzical smiles from across the table suggested more than a hint of scepticism. But by the time I’d assumed a piss-poor Scots accent, in the style of Private Frazer – the old Dad’s Army character, they could tell I was deadly serious.

I leaned forward and exploded into action….

(In Scots Character Voice)

“Aye! We’re doomed!.... Mmmmmm… doomed I tell yae! 


DOOMED!!!.... Doomed, dooooomed! Doomed we are!

Hahaha…. Oh aye….. definitely doomed!

(In a neutral announcer voice) 

Scotland, versus – BRAZIL. Tomorrow at 7-40, live on Thames (TV)

Fortuitously, despite the anxious glances being cast in our direction by numerous hotel employees, our guests seemed impressed. An enthusiastic discussion ensued. Was this specimen of undoubted creative greatness simply the result of it being a ‘dream brief’? Well, that’s certainly possible, with a relatively woeful Scotland football team being pitted against the world-beating South Americans. But further debate hit upon the beautiful, single-minded simplicity of the apparent radio brief from all those years ago.

Think for a minute, about the many things that an overzealous client or worse, one of today’s ubiquitous legal departments may have tried to shoe-horn in. The venue for the game, the actual kick off time, the name of the TV host and his assembled pundits. Mentions of a few choice players. The fact that Thames TV was only available through an aerial together with a rambling high-speed instruction for viewers to check their local signal coverage.

But they didn’t. Instead, they took 75% of a what was already a short - twenty-second ad, and used it to underline the highly likely outcome of this immense footballing mismatch. Creating the humorous intrigue, which makes the ‘sell’ at the end even more memorable and compulsive.

How many ads can we say this of today?

Just try and repeat your current favourite radio ad, word for word and see how far you get.

Even better, try and repeat your business’s current radio ad, word for word.

Let me know how you get on. But my suspicion is, your attempt will be… ‘doomed’!

Mark Gregory

Listen to the actual audio of Mark Gregory’s favourite radio ad in the world – ever, right here.