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How to make an advertisement into a podcast feature

My brother recently introduced me to a new podcast, Mystery Show, which, if you haven’t listened it it already, you should. The premise is simple: if you have a mystery in your life which needs solving, Starlee Kine will be your sleuth. The only rule is it can’t be solved via the Internet.

Starlee narrates her investigation with all the intimate, disarming charm inherent to the podcast genre. However, as endearing as the show is itself, it also features my newest favorite advertisement—for Kind Snacks.

Starlee’s advert on her podcast begins in the standard manner: she reads off some scripted ad copy leading up to one of Kind’s taglines: “ingredients you can see and pronounce.” This is where genius strikes: The Ingredient List.

Get the cast involved

The Ingredient List is a show within the show. In my favorite installment, “Cinnamon,” one of the cast members explains, “Kind snacks are made from ingredients you can see and pronounce, except: little kids can’t pronounce cinnamon. So can we just have kids trying to say cinnamon for 30 seconds?”

And then follows 30 seconds of the host of the show and other cast members trying to coax little kids to say cinnamon. It is cute, funny, memorable.

What’s impressive here is that the ad is new every time. The Ingredient List features a new ingredient from a Kind snack each week, and then it plays around with that ingredient. “Quinoa,” for instance, which you can’t pronounce when your mouth is full. Or “Mixed nuts,” which you can see, pronounce, and use to prank your friends.

And much like the “MailKimp” ad from Serial, the success of this ad hinges on authenticity. Because we can hear the cast having fun with the ad, we believe them when they promote the product. And from their side of things, they get a chance to run an ad that stays in keeping with the spirit of their show.

Turn your ad into a segment of the show

Mystery Show’s Kind advertisement does something that very few advertising campaigns are able to accomplish: it advertises the show as much as the product. It’s kind of like how half the Super Bowl audience tunes in for the legendary commercials rather than the game itself. The advertising entertains so well that we want more of it. We look forward to it coming on. When it starts, we ask others to be quiet so that we can listen.

So if you’re looking for a podcast to sponsor, here are our top takeaways:

  • Don’t just pick a podcast based on its audience size. Think about who they are, and if they fit in with your brand. Do the hosts like and use your product? Will a promo from them feel authentic?
  • Involve the cast in the writing of your ad as much as possible. Have them work with your writers so that they have something that feels as much a part of their podcast’s brand as your own. Think about the ad spot as if you are promoting each other.
  • Podcasts are a more intimate, casual genre than other mediums, so don’t be afraid to do something that sounds more off the cuff.

Do you run a podcast? What kind of relationship do you like to build with your sponsors?


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