Thursday, 7 January 2016

Create A New Addiction !

This is a typical day in the Calvert household:

I get up at 7.30ish. I check my BBC News app and then go downstairs to feed our 2 dogs Wainwrights dog food. We’ve tried other makes, but the dogs went off them.

Then it’s a quick jump into the shower. By then Dan, my 10 year old son will be tucking into his Kelloggs cereal. My wife will be straightening her hair with her GHD’s and I’ll pop out to walk the dogs in the rain wearing my North Face raincoat.

At 8.30 sharp, I kiss my son goodbye and my wife takes Dan to school in her Hyundai car.

By then I am in the office. I will check the Brand Republic website for the latest advertising news and then start scriptwriting on Microsoft Office 2016.  I’ll record voices via my Audio TX codec and mix commercials on Pro Tools on my Mac Pro. (Pro Tools is so much more stable on Mac !) Alternatively I could be doing voiceovers via my Neumann mic. From there I will gather some documents and jump into my BMW and head to a meeting. I usually stop at the local M&S shop to buy sandwiches and a can of ‘V’ energy drink. I don’t drink Red Bull, because for some reason it makes me feel sleepy.

At the meeting, I present the document and play audio from my Bose Acoustic Music System. In my opinion, nothing sounds better.

After the meeting, I check emails on my Iphone. On longer trips, I bring a small Seagate hard drive of all the radio commercials and music Airforce has ever recorded over the last 10 years, just in case someone needs me to send them something we’ve made in the past. Then it’s off home. On my way back, I will usually stop at Tesco to buy red wine for me and Prosecco for my wife. She used to drink Cava, but nowadays it gives her a migraine.

It’s back into the office until about 6pm. I walk the dogs wearing my Timberland walking boots. Then it’s family time. Having said that, I keep the phone on just in case a client calls. Dan will have had his tea, (he loves Bertolli pasta) and then he looks at Youtube on our Ipad. My wife and I may discuss things like our next holiday. We prefer Thomson/Sensatori holiday resorts.

At 7.30ish, I will cook dinner and then watch TV on our Samsung TV. Later, I check emails and Facebook, then it’s off to bed.

So what’s the point behind me telling you my daily routine and preferences ?

Every day, we all go through routines, rituals and habits. You’ll have superstitions as well. You’ll do things in a certain way because you think things will be better as a result doing things ‘your’ way.

You may avoid walking on cracks in the pavement. You may never walk under a ladder. You won’t buy a pastry from ‘that’ bakery on the street corner because you heard someone got food poisoning.  You may think that if you buy a Lottery ticket with a specific set of numbers, you stand a better chance of winning.  You won’t drink alcohol until after 7pm. You will always park in generally the same area when you visit your local supermarket.

The list goes on and on.

Our days are dominated by these routines, rituals, habits, beliefs and superstitions. Some will be very subtle, whereas others you will be completely aware of and apologise to others for them.

We carry them out because they make us feel, among other thigs,  ‘in control’.

And guess what ? Every big brand knows that.

That’s why they create products that help to maintain and enhance that feeling of well-being, familiarity and security.

We think we own brands. But in reality, brands actually own us. They make products we believe we can’t live without. For example, for thousands of years, the human race has survived perfectly well without the need for things like mobile phones, make-up, social media and coffee. Yet today, the very thought of being denied these things for just 24 hours sends a lot of us into a mild panic !

Brands adapt to our needs of the moment, For example, see this commercial for Lucozade from 1971. Lucozade was a drink that helped poorly kids feel better. And here’s their latest offering.  Notice how the 2015 ad shows how the brand is no longer about helping poorly folk. It’s about helping today's working generation get through their day in a better way.
So today, as you sip your daily Starbucks Espresso Macchiato (because you believe it’s the only way to keep you going), consider how you could encourage radio listeners to create new habits, rituals and safety nets with your product or service.

Better still, give us a call and we’ll work that bit out for you.

For help on making your radio commercials tap into the minds of your audience, visit

Monday, 22 April 2013

We Won !

Last Saturday, we heard news that productions by Airforce have won, for the third year in a row, another Vox award.

'Hornby', produced for our client Spirit FM won the 'Best Retail Radio Commercial' category in the 2013 Vox Awards.

Other Airforce productions Celebrate Without Drama's 'Dizzy Lizzy' produced for our client Wessex FM was also nominated in the 'Best Public Service' category, Travel Dorset's 'Sharing to Work' produced again for Wessex FM was a finalist in the 'Best Music' category and Tanya Rich for her performance in 'Dizzy Lizzy' was  nominated in the 'Best Female Voiceover' category. In all, we received more finalist nominations than any other entrant.

We broke the news to our client today, and everyone is delighted.

'Hornby' was one in a series of 3 commercials created for The Engine Shed, a massive store in Sussex specialising in Model Railways, Scalextric, Airfix models and much more besides.

Airforce was called in by Spririt FM to bring a new dynamic to the Engine Shed's radio advertising. Their previous commercials were 'what you would expect from a model shop'. Our task was to 'bring alive' the store in a more contemporary manner and introduce it to those outside the model-making and train set community.

We devised the theme 'lose yourself in the Engine Shed'. This line not only gives an indication of the scale of the store, but tells the audience that the goods they sell are so lifelike, you'll actually feel you're there on the rail rack, in an aeroplane or in a racing car. Each of the 3 radio commercials we produced featured a child 'losing themselves' when playing with model railways, cars or planes.

You can hear all 3 radio adverts, including the award-winning 'Hornby' here.

John Calvert

Friday, 12 April 2013

We're onto a winner ?

The Vox Awards are back.

And we're proud to say, 4 productions by Airforce are nominated for prizes. In fact, we have more nominations than any other entrant.

The Engine Shed's 'Hornby' produced for our client Spirit FM features in the 'Best Retail' category, Celebrate Without Drama's 'Dizzy Lizzy' produced for out client Wessex FM features in the 'Best Public Service' category, Travel Dorset's 'Sharing to Work' produced again for Wessex FM features in the 'Best Music' category and Tanya Rich for her performance in 'Dizzy Lizzy' has been nominated in the 'Best Female Voiceover' category.

Last year, Airforce won the the 'Best Retail' category. The year before, our productions won the 'Best Male Voiceover' and 'Best Female Voiceover' categories, so in 2013, we'd really like to win the hat trick.

To win a Vox Award, our entries need votes. And lots of them !  The voting process is mildly convoluted, but if you have a spare five minutes, visit this website. And follow the process. They will ask you for your phone number, but it is not used for any dubious purposes.

Voting closes on the 18th, so we would really appreciate your help !

Many thanks.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Why Radio Stations Can Learn From the Horsemeat Scandal

There are a lot of folks blaming each other for the mess recently created by the horsemeat scandal.

In my view, a large percentage of the accusative finger should be pointed at some of the supermarkets. In their never-ending quest to buy their stock at the cheapest possible prices, it's not surprising some suppliers have resorted to below-the-belt tactics to make ends meet (Or should it be 'make ends meat' ?) by replacing beef with the cheaper horsemeat.

I am in no way condoning the suppliers behaviour, but when a supermarket is asking you to reduce your prices, it's obvious that the product quality won't be as good. Corners will always be cut.

A few weeks ago, I read a blog from a radio commercial production company who decided to part company with a group of radio stations because they couldn't agree on a fair price to produce radio ads. In a nutshell, the radio stations wanted their commercials produced for '£X' and the production company said their price will be a higher '£Y'. The production company concerned felt that they simply couldn't make radio commercials for the '£X' price and so they pulled out of the deal. Those who read the blog (Including myself) were in full support of the production company's withdrawal. Sure, we all want our prices to be accessible, but when if a product is going to be seriously compromised, for the sake of your own company's reputation, it is best to walk away.

In the current economic climate, there's a huge amount of undercutting going on. I have seen online production companies offering their services for just £45 !

So what will you get for your £45 ? Well, you'll get a radio ad, but what has gone into it - or most worryingly,  not ?

I wouldn't be surprised if the 'writer' is an ex-DJ, a swing jock or someone 'in-between jobs'. Note: Just because the person creating your radio ad 'works in radio'; that does not mean he or she is an expert in creating radio advertising.

The same warning goes to people who own a recording studio. There is no connection between 'owning a recording studio' and being a fully-fledged Radio Commercial Producer. Choose your studio wisely.

And so to the production. What kind of music will they be using for £45 ? It's unlikely to be MCPS production music. The cost for just one 30 second cut is about £80, so some folks will say that's too expensive. The radio station commissioning the production may have an MCPS blanket licence - which helps, but many stations don't have one. About a year ago, a group of radio stations invited Airforce to tender for a production contract. We declined because they wouldn't invest in the Blanket Licence. A lot of MCPS production music is of extremely high quality and can actually make some low-cost productions sound quite decent. But if you resort to the Royalty Free stuff, the musical integrity is often quite limited, American-sounding, iffy or all three.

If it's a jingle you're after, then lots of companies will punch a catchy tune out for less than £250. But the people performing on your track are unlikely to be 'proper' session musicians or singers. When you add things up; A couple of great session singers, a half decent studio, a composer with a successful track record in producing advertising music, some proper session musicians etc etc; £250 will barely scratch the surface. Again, it wouldn't surprise me if the 'singer' is the producer's girlfriend and/or sister who sometimes performs down the pub on Karaoke night. Or it will be the producer himself.

I could dismantle the prices even more, but the fact is: Cheap is not good.

Cheap gives you poorly-written scripts. Cheap gives you poor production values. Cheap gives you badly-cast voices. Cheap gives you naff music. Cheap gives you jingles that annoy the hell out of the listener. Cheap employs part-time singers and musicians.  Cheap will never present your brand in the right light. Cheap lowers the quality of radio station output. Cheap makes everything sound the same. Cheap doesn't give radio advertisers the choice, service and attention they deserve. Cheap is putting a square peg into a round hole. Cheap isn't proper radio advertising.

This is why some radio stations should learn from  the Horsemeat Scandal. Instead of looking for a producer who will do things for less, use someone who will bring to the table tasty things that contain great ingredients and will have advertisers wanting second, third and fourth helpings.

We have radio station clients who understand this. But alas, they are not the norm.


You don't have to get your radio station to make your radio commercials, radio adverts and jingles. For free initial script ideas, get in touch here.

Friday, 1 February 2013

A great time to advertise on the radio !

Audiences are loving commercial radio. Healthy audience figures and despite hard economic times, radio is doing very well. Read this article.

From writing the script, all the way to recording and to dispatching your ad(s) to the station, Airforce can help. Contact us here. 

You do not have to have your commercials made by a radio station. Because Airforce is not owned or influenced by any media or radio company we will give you a different and unbiased perspective. Airforce has worked in and served the commercial radio sector for over 30 years. This makes us a valuable ally for radio advertisers wanting to get it right.

Initial script ideas are free, so there's nothing to lose. 01249 821679

Monday, 28 May 2012

We've Won Another Award !

News in !

In the 2012 Vox awards, Airforce won 'Best Service Sector' commercial.

Produced for The Tank Museum and commissioned by Wessex FM, the commercial 'Show and Tell' received the majority vote.

In addition, commercials by Airforce were also nominated in 'Best Public Service' and 'Best Music' categories.

The Vox Awards recognise excellence in commercials produced by radio stations and independent production companies. In 2011, productions by Airforce won in 'Best Male Voiceover' and 'Best Female Voiceover categories.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What can or can't you say in finance radio adverts ?

RACC have published an easy guide relating to the mandatory inclusions in finance ads.

Read them here.

If you're looking for radio commercials that keep within the rules AND sound interesting, get in touch and we can draft a concept for free.

Click here for our contact details.

John Calvert