"Around award season typically, when all the things from the agencies get entered, you find yourself as a creative being like God, if I just had two or three more spots to flood the circuit a little more," says Goodby copywriter Chris Beresford-Hill. "[Co-copywriter] Larry [Corwin] and I were in the hallway and we were talking about Mercury and thought how funny it would be to allow people to make their own award-winning radio. We just started joking about how we should make a site where you could create your own radio spot and win an award for it."
With the "Make Radio" site, Goodby gives casual participants the chance to play bedroom music producer, providing a brief and three sound banks for music, voice overs and loops to click, drag, sequence and create a spot for what's essentially a fake client called Riccardi Scented Candles. "We called up the Radio Advertising Bureau not really having a budget or a vendor or even an account [rep] and we just pitched them the idea and they got really excited about it," recalls Beresford-Hill. "Then, we started getting our in-house production involved and got [Goodby CD] Jamie Barrett involved with creative directing the work. It just started with a hallway conversation that probably started with 'you know what would be funny...'
According to Corwin, working with a fake client instead of a real one alleviated the usual hassles. "We tossed around the idea of partnering with an actual client for this, but when it came down to it, it was really counter-effective. We went for a product that doesn't have much good advertising for it right now, like candles, and let people have some fun with that."
For inspiration, the pair didn't have to look further than the Goodby office itself. "It was inspired by Robert Riccardi, who is one of the managing partners here," Beresford-Hill reveals. "He smells really good and we got a gust of pine, so we thought Riccardi Scented Candles. But we created the client brief just so everybody can have one lens to look at all these tools we've given them. It's just for people to be as creative as they can and do the most they can with all the stuff we've put together."
Using the Radio Advertising Bureau as its connection, Goodby culled samples to use for music and sound effects from several New York studios including Bar1 productions, Sound Lounge, Oink Oink Radio, BRG Musicworks and Nutmeg audio post. But for the voiceover work, which spans an array of dialogue from simple one-word utterances to odd phrases, the agency recorded them all in its own basement using agency talent. Beresford-Hill explains, "[With voice over], Larry and I just wrote down as many abstract words and phrases as we could all the way from the word 'and' to the phrase 'I'm at an S&M bar.' That's probably going to be one of the more popular phrases maybe because ad people share that sense of humor."
With the best spot (based on online voting and a panel of judges) garnering its own award at the Radio Mercury event, Beresford-Hill says that Goodby is looking to entice creatives in the ad industry to participate, with Goodby's own Jamie Barrett getting involved in competition itself. "We wanted to make it wide open so we put all these tools together and didn't want to limit anyone's creativity. Since this isn't a real client and a real project with real meetings and planners, it's a real opportunity just for fun. We wanted to use some logic and the idea was basically just to completely unfetter creativity. So many times, when you're working for paying clients, there are so many boxes to check. That's where we thought we'd have a little fun and go all the way."