Endorsement Ads That Sell and Entertain [audio] [video]

Endorsement Ads That Sell and Entertain [audio] [video]

by Tracy Johnson

There’s a lot of money for air talent and radio stations in endorsement ads, if you follow a few smart principles.

Advertisers love endorsements, whether a first-hand testimonial from a high profile personality or a live read. And there’s a good reason: The ads work.

Endorsements and live reads get reaction because your fans trust your recommendation. Endorsement ads have proven to be a powerful method of driving response.

In fact, studies have proven that listeners are far less likely to tune out of endorsements, especially if delivered creatively.

However, for programmers, endorsement ads can be a tune out.

Many times, those 60-second live spots end up being far longer than promised. Sadly, this has been a selling point for many radio sales people.

And, when the advertiser demands too much copy jammed into a short time frame, it can actually damage the air talent’s credibility. Other times, talent doesn’t get to the point quickly enough and that 60 second ad becomes a 90 second bonus.

That’s why I love this endorsement ad from Pat & JT at KQKQ/Omaha. It’s entertaining, fits into the fabric of the show and is a powerful sales message.

Delivering Client Value in Endorsement Ads

This is Jill Thomas, who goes by JT on the air, of Pat & JT on Q98.5 in Omaha. Listen as she performs a first-person live endorsement ad for a window company.

This endorsement ad is terrific because:

It’s Embedded In the Show

You never hear the advertisement coming. They seamlessly transition from content into the ad.


She sounds as if she is truly excited about her new windows (and she, in fact, was).

Delivery Style

JT is conversational and relatable, delivering a recommendation without filling the segment with facts, specs and copy points. It’s personal.

This is a highly effective ad. Radio needs more examples like this.

How to Benefit From Endorsement Ads

Great endorsement ads and live reads are believable, stand out and actually get heard. They provide credibility to your advertiser. They’re a powerful weapon in an advertising era that is challenging to traditional media.

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Familiar voices making recommendations for relevant goods or services, can really sell, especially when the commercial is a story about their experiences with a product or service.

When the ad breaks through the predictable sound of the typical radio commercial, there’s a one-to-one connection that is one of radio’s key advantages.

Don’t kill the goose that is laying these golden eggs!

Be sure you’re taking care to protect this valuable tool.

DeDe In The Morning Example

Here’s another terrific example of a radio ad disguised as entertainment value. Listen to DeDe In The Morning on K104 in Dallas. You have to really think about it to even know this is a commercial. It’s a perfect blend of entertainment, celebrity and salesmanship.

Endorsement Ad Guidelines for Sales

Some clients are ideal for an endorsement ad, but for others, it’s a really bad idea. Account Executives have found that the endorsement ad, especially if it’s live, is highly marketable.

Involve Talent Before You Pitch It. Happy, involved air talent make great spokespeople, but if you sell it first, then put the GM in a position to force talent to cooperate, you’ll end up burning a bridge with the client at some point.

Get a Premium Rate. The ads work, and they’re limited in supply. That deserves a higher rate.

Be Sure Talent Gets Free Use of the Service or Product. And not in place of their talent fee. You want them excited about it, and speaking from first-hand experience. Don’t make it a negotiation.

Give Talent Creative Freedom. If you provide too many guidelines and copy points, the value of the ad (the talent’s creativity) is lost. If the client insists on more copy than should be in a creative ad, steer them away from endorsements.

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Live is Best. No, it doesn’t have to be live, but it’s great when it is.

Guidelines for Talent

If you don’t use it and don’t really believe in the product or service, don’t pitch it. Even if the talent fee is attractive. Protect your image, integrity and marketability.

If you do endorse it, get behind it and be all-in. Do videos and promotions for the client. Align your brand with theirs.

Having a direct relationship with advertisers adds value for you and your company. Nurture those relationships. Be their spokesperson beyond the 30s and 60s. This can often be a tie-breaker in making hiring decisions in a local market.

Talent can form a stronger bond that’s more intimate than an account executive because your success is directly tied to the client’s results. The AE’s success is directly tied to their ability to sell advertising. You’re more invested, and the client will see you as a member of their team.

Here’s more on how endorsement ads and live reads can benefit your station and/or personality brand:


How have you used endorsements in your arsenal of tools? I’d love to hear them and share your techniques and examples with others. Please send them along by email at tracy@tjohnsonmediagroup.com.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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