When it comes to ac­cents, it’s time we chose be­tween Cork and Cal­i­for­nia…

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

One of the clever­est ads on the ra­dio at the mo­ment is an ad for ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing. In it­self, this may not be the best ad for ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing. If ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing is so ef­fec­tive, as the ad claims, why not have an ad there for some­thing else? Af­ter all, we don’t sit through the ad breaks on TV ev­ery night be­ing told how much we can boost our com­pany’s prof­its by sell­ing an im­pos­si­ble life­style to poor con­sumers who will try to live up to it by buy­ing our prod­ucts. Ac­tu­ally, there’s a prob­a­bly a good rea­son for that…

But back to the clever ra­dio ad, which, like any good idea, is very sim­ple. A man read­ing out a list of what we (that is, the Ir­ish) like, in ev­ery con­ceiv­able re­gional ac­cent – from Darn­dale to Dalkey, Fer­managh to Fermoy – us­ing the slang we em­ploy in real life. The ad is ef­fec­tive be­cause it gives ad­ver­tis­ers a sense of the reach of ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing. That there’s a house­wife in Dublin tun­ing in to the ra­dio at the same time as a fish­er­man in Gal­way, a hair­dresser in Of­faly and a builder in Kerry. That you’re con­nect­ing with real, liv­ing peo­ple, as op­posed to sta­tis­tics on a spread­sheet.

It’s a patch­work of dif­fer­ent ge­ogra­phies and ex­pe­ri­ences, from the bustling ur­ban to the sleepy subur­ban, the hills and the val­leys to the coasts and the plains. But it all adds up to a sense of be­ing some­how the same. In short, it’s re­fresh­ing to hear so many ac­cents shar­ing a com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor. They are nat­u­ral, un­af­fected and in­dis­putably Ir­ish.

Why is it, there­fore, that these ac­cents are so un­com­mon in ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing? In­stead of lilt­ing Cork ca­dences or the pure rhythms of a Con­nemara or Done­gal ac­cent, our air­waves are pol­luted with a weird ac­cent that sounds like a chain-smok­ing south County Dublin model who’s spent too long in Daddy’s du­plex in Florida. What is this ac­cent the agen­cies and ad­ver­tis­ers fawn over? Does it have some over­pow­er­ing al­lure over those myth­i­cal AB con­sumers and their buck­ets of cash?

And it’s not just the voiceover artists in ads, this ac­cent has long been a pre­req­ui­site for get­ting a job read­ing the news, re­port­ing the traf­fic and pre­sent­ing the weather, or do­ing all three, de­pend­ing on the com­mer­cial ra­dio sta­tion you work for. We can, of course, blame the per­ni­cious influence of US TV, as any par­ent of teenage chil­dren will be aware. But do we have to teach our newread­ers and ra­dio voiceover artists to speak like that? We don’t ex­pect Pat Spil­lane or Joe Duffy to change their ac­cents to get a job on ra­dio, so why do we ex­pect it from the younger gen­er­a­tion?


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