One summer break during college, I worked as an ice cream man. Deep in the 80s recession, the company I worked for (actually contracted with) was going gangbusters. The guy who owned the local franchise explained, “individually sold ice cream novelties are a second class commodity.” In other words, when the stock market is down, sales of fudgsicles go up. Why? Because they’re seen as an affordable splurge. Sales of things like hamburger also go up, because it’s a less expensive way to, in the words of the former Chief Executive, “put food on your family.”
Which brings us to radio.
Radio advertising has been racing to the bottom in more ways than one in recent years. Shorter ads mean less craft and more yelling. Station-produced spots are forgettable at best and grating on average. But our current downward economic slide could mean that previously generous TV advertising budgets could be slashed to the point where cheaper media (like radio) make more sense. And subsequently, radio advertising could soon find itself as less of an afterthought in the minds of clients and creatives.
I certainly don’t mean to imply that radio is “second class” in any way. But we could see more advertisers turn to it as their budgets tighten. Might the recession also lead to a resurgence in the quality of radio advertising as a whole?