Bugs may be my second favorite rabbit.
Johnny Rabbitt responded to the past tribute here. He answered the mystery of how he creates such inviting tales each week, stories so friendly you’d never believe they’re commercials. He wrote:
“My live reads are heavily ad-libbed around either copy that has been provided,
but that I rework, or those that I’ve written. Most of the spots are done from
bullet-points or no copy at all. I’m proud that you feel I’m a success at doing
this as I do my best to avoid sounding like I’m just parroting someone else’s
words. The hardest thing is keeping the ads from going too much over the
allotted 60 seconds. I wish I could do the commercials as part of my show, but
we are required to do them within a spot break, which takes away the freedom of
tying it in with other program content.
Nationally, Arthur Godfrey and Paul Harvey are among my commercial announcer role models and locally Ed Wilson, in my opinion, was tops. Those were the days when radio stations had professional continuity writers who could craft commercials that would make it seem that we were just talking from the heart to our audience.
Today copy is churned out by sales people who for the most part, don’t know how to write a
commercial or by those very few who might, but don’t really have the time to do so. Ad agency spots are somewhat better, but the art of copywriting at agencies is also generally weaker than in the decades gone by.”
I double-checked with the master, asking if he’d mind me sharing his thoughts. He added:
“Maybe these thoughts will help those writing copy to take a greater interest in
the craft. It’s amazing how often we get commercials with phrases such as:
“Check out their (fill in the blank),” “That’s right,” “This is (name) for my
friends at (name of client),” “Don’t forget,” and, “You may ask.” Plus a high
percentage of copy is too long, as if jamming 70 seconds of copy in a 60 second
spot will make for a better spot. An important tip for doing a timed script is
for the writer to read the spot OUT LOUD at a normal pace then hone the
continuity for the proper length. Recording it on any device and playing it back
can also be a big help.”
I’ll be tuned in Saturday night to AM 1120, riding down “Route 66” with this rare Rabbitt. This supreme St. Louis storyteller makes every word matter.