No, it wasn’t Mozart who told me that. It was Tom Bartunik, the station manager of WQXR-FM in New York, my client at the time. Tom was a radio guy, and a classical guy. But I remember my shock when, explaining the appeal of his commercial classical station to his listeners, Tom let me in on a secret. (WQXR, New York’s last commercial classical station is now long gone, plowed under by classic rock or lite hits or something equally horrible I’m sure). You could have knocked me over with a feather when Tom told me that his listeners, given the choice of listening to the station with ads and without ads ACTUALLY PREFERRED THE STATION WITH ADS. Even though I had been a working advertising professional for years, I found this shocking. People actually looking forward to ads? On classical radio no less? Surely that rarefied group would be the ones that hated crass commercialism more than anyone. “No,” said Tom. “They actually like to learn about the kinds of things we offer them. Breaks things up nicely.”
And a lightbulb went off. Of course. People don’t hate ads — they just hate sucky ones of no interest. People like ads. They like to learn about things that’ll make their lives better, more meaningful, more fun, cooler.
People like life to be like that.
And Tom’s comment spoke a lot about the responsibility of the media to present ‘nice’ ads and the responsibility of the advertising agencies to make ‘nice’ ads and the responsibility of the clients to make ‘nice’ products that people will like. Cuz if they like ’em, they buy ’em.
Thanks Tom. And Wolfgang — hey, I do like his music.
Have a great weekend.