Oink Ink- 25 Years of Radio Ads That Don’t Stink. by Jeff Finkle.
Oink Ink is sort of a creative oasis in the sea of sameness that is radio advertising and don’t let the name fool you because their ads do not stink. The Price brothers are the creative heart, soul and funny bone of Oink Ink and they have been putting out great radio spots for 25 years. We were happy to sit down with Jim and Dan Price and discuss their history in the field of radio advertising as well as their 25 for 25 Countdown of their favorite radio spots.
Dan Price and his younger brother Jim have the kind of working relationship that is only enhanced by how well they know each other. “Our roles over time evolved to where we each know what we’re strongest at, noted Jim.” Jim is the Creative Director and manages the freelance writers they work with and Dan, who is the President, can be found in the studio, directing and producing the work. The positives of working with your brother, Dan said, is “I always know who’s replying to an email and how we’re going to respond. We never have to have meetings and discussions. Everything falls into place easily.”
Oink Ink started out catering to ad agency clients, exclusively doing work for the agency and they slowly began to build relationships with promo clients, like the old King World Productions, which gave them a chance to write the scripts and handle client service. Their passion was always in wanting to be the creative lead but when they started, they were taught never to go directly to a client. After 10 years in, they made the decision to start approaching clients directly and identifying brands that they felt would be a good fit for them.
The industry has changed over the past two decades, and agencies now rarely farm work out to radio production companies anymore, which is why most of their competitors have gone out of business. “There were probably a dozen companies when we started that did what we did and agencies over the years built their own studios and cut radio production companies out of the equation.” Luckily for Jim and Dan they “already had their reputation in place as a production company and a full-service agency and they lasted and thrived when others went under, noted Jim.”
Brands come to them now for the most part because their radio isn’t working and they’re “set up more than any other traditional agency” to do this work, noted Jim. They’ve been doing it for twenty-five years and they look for, identify and handpick the best radio writers in the country. Most importantly, their success can be drawn back to how much they care about radio. They live, breathe and eat radio. Brands that really care about how their radio spots will turn out will come to Oink Ink and it is not a difficult sell. “Radio is what we do and it’s our specialty. “Ten years later and we’ve basically become an ad agency that specializes in radio, Jim noted.
“It’s funny that for whatever reason, people think anyone can do it,” which is why the average listener probably hates radio spots.” In radio ads, “you can’t rely on a Brad Pitt eye roll.” In an ad, you need an audio equivalent of that and what is that? “It’s the interpretation and timing. Everything that’s said and implied all has a purpose, noted Dan.” Their work stands out for its creativity but it also stands out because it’s up against so much work that doesn’t stand out. Jim sums up working in radio by pointing out that “radio isn’t sexy and working in radio isn’t sexy either.” You really should love the medium of radio to work in it for 25 years and the Price brothers do.
In celebrating their 25th Anniversary, they started a countdown of their favorite ads and are promoting them through podcasts, where Jim and Dan relive their memories of the production of each ad. They’ve gotten great feedback on their recollection of behind-the-scenes stories on spots. The ads in the 25 for 25 list represent spots that were their favorites for one reason or another. They might represent an era or a specific client but not necessarily the Top 25 Awarded ads. They all have meaning to Dan and Jim and the team at Oink Ink.
“It’s been a lot of fun for us and Jim would do the first weeding out to get it down to 82 spots.” It took them a month and a half to get down to their favorite 25, after doing thousands of commercials over the years, noted Dan. At the beginning, they thought of videotaping their podcasts but it made too much sense to do a podcast talking about radio spots.
Dan recounted a funny story on one “Dead Radio Contest,” where they solicit radio scripts that had been killed by clients. They pick the best, fly the writer in for the session and produce it for free.
“In 1999, our Second Annual contest, the winning script was from a writer named Michael Everard. It was a script he wrote for the Washington Department of Health, a PSA speaking out against the dangers of chewing tobacco. Basically, the idea was a sarcastic ‘celebration’ of the joys of spitting tobacco. A refined VO eloquently describes the different methods of spitting. And each spitting style is accompanied by an audio demonstration.
So, we needed to have specific sound effects for each different type of …well…spit. ‘The Soda Can Squirt,’ The Wintergreen Plop,’ and ‘The Big Leaf Splat,’ each needed their own specific sound.
As you might expect there are not a ton of different spitting sound effects in stock libraries and so we had to foley each spitting sound effect, live in the studio. So, there we were, each taking turns spitting into soda cans, spitting onto scrap wood, into trash cans…each designed to get the right type of spit sound. I recall the ‘Big Leaf Splat’ wasn’t sounding right when we recorded it in the booth. The booth had the tendency of deadening the sound. So, armed with scrap wood, we set up mics in the hardwood hallway and proceeded so spit for about 20 minutes to really get the right sound. The studio owner and clients in other sessions didn’t seem to think it was as funny as we did but we had a great time and the spot came out well. “ Check out a link to the spot.
Dan and Jim Price have continued to make the radio listening audience laugh through their trademark humor for 25 years and as the radio industry has changed, that humor and creative spark has been a constant.
Take a listen to all the entertaining podcasts that the Price brothers have been recording since October 21st and will continue to post on the site until their actual 25thAnniversary, on Feb 2nd.