Colbert waxed nostalgic about radio days at Friday's show at the Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. He questioned the validity of having him appear in person, since no one appears on radio--but said that "as it turns out, I am a smart choice because I have a voice built for radio, unencumbered by my mind."
In his blithe introduction, Colbert made hay of history, poking fun at everyone from the Rush Limbaugh/Bill O'Reilly factors (who offer, he said, "both opinion ... and viewpoint"), the current president (with Colbert noting that radio broadcasts sometimes cause panic and confusion, using Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" and George W. Bush's weekly radio addresses as examples), and even told an impossible joke involving inventors Guglielmo Marconi and Nicolai Tesla.
And there was a reference to Herbert Hoover's conviction that "Every family in America shall have a radio in every pot." Hoover altered that to "chicken" after several accidental electrocutions, per Colbert, who added that "it was too late to save the election."
The big winner was Pond Radio Entertainment, whose "Talk Like You Type" ad for TypingMaster Pro won both "Best Use of Copywriting" and "Best in Show" for the hilarious spot in which the voiceover speaks the mangled English of a poor typist, replete with "backspace," "colon" and assorted wrong keys.
Sam Pond, owner of the eponymous San Francisco agency, told Marketing Daily the idea for the spot came "straight out of my own horrible typing skills. I was drumming up ideas on the computer, typos flying. I read a paragraph aloud and realized that it was a good thing I didn't talk like I typed."
About the award, he said: "It's wonderful that a media company like Clear Channel is throwing down the gauntlet in support of a much-maligned medium. I believe this show will quadruple in the number of submissions next year. I hope they're ready."
Pond also enjoyed a private moment onstage with Colbert. As his spot was being played, the comedian quietly asked him: "Who's the voice? He's terrific." A beaming Pond got to tell Colbert, "That's me!"
Clear Channel won twice, for "Best Use of Radio to Drive Consumers to the Web" and (no surprise, given the company's ownership footprint) "Best Commercial Produced by a Radio Station." In the former category, Clear Channel, L.A. won for its spot for Broadway dot com. For the latter, the Clear Channel's Orlando, Fla. station won for its psychoanalytic radio ad for local eatery Adobe Gilas.
Roberts Communications took the award for "Best Radio PSA Pro Bono" for its frankly harrowing spot about the pediatric perils of lead paint. The client was Lead Free Rochester.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which was heavily represented in the slate of finalists, did score one win for Best Music, for its work "Double Shot General" for Burger King, in which it posited a group of oddly believable bands singing about the restaurant's menu items.
"Best Use of Humor in a Radio Commercial" went to DeVito Verdi, whose spot for client Legal Sea Foods posited a delinquent fisherman whose every exaggerated statement or frank lies about the freshness and palatability of his catch are punctuated with bells and buzzers.
The show went off without a hitch even though one of the entrants, who had won some categories, pulled out at the 11th hour. Awards included membership in a chartered jet fleet for the winner and five guests, $50,000 credit in a Pay Pal account, $25,000 to a favorite charity, a $20,000 Paris shopping spree, two 2008 Mini Coopers, and a 2008 BMW 3 Series 335i convertible with HD radio.
Colbert appeared to coin one of his famous words in describing radio's importance as a medium. "There are no fees, no subscriptions; it is there!" he exclaimed. "And, thanks to advertisers, we are thoroughly deodorized, massively insured and fully erect. The EAR Award nominees have created radio advertising that is entertaining, funny, poignant and, most of all, impactishnessful."