Maybe you've seen the new Coldplay video directed by Dougal Wilson. If not, here it is:
Weird as it will sound, this is exactly what a great radio spot should be.
LAYER 1: This could have been video of Coldplay lip-synching on a soundstage. You've seen a million music videos like that. They're pretty boring. Unmemorable. And very self-indulgent of the group that's funding the project. Just like 90% of the radio advertising you hear.
LAYER 2: If the director had simply said, "Let's have the band be puppets!" that makes things a little more interesting. But just seeing puppets sing wouldn't have made it as memorable. In radio that's the equivalent of "Let's have this announcement be read in a silly voice or accent!" or "Let's have this be a conversation between two people!"
LAYER 3: There's a little more to this video than just "Coldplay as pupppets." It's recreating a concert. There's a jumbotron, pyrotechnics, crowd surfing. Things are starting to get a little more interesting. In a radio spot, you need to start pushing past the initial concept and consider what your idea really means.
LAYER 4: There is a lot of unexpected stuff in this video. And like a Cirque du Soleil show, every gag builds on and outdoes the last. First the stage expands. Then a catwalk appears. Then there's a sound guy by the hors d'oeuvres. Then the motorcycles. By the time the helicopter crashes through the glass window things are completely over the top. In a radio spot, you can't just pick a gag or a theme or a hook and just repeat it over and over. The spot has to build. Maybe it gets funnier. Maybe it gets more profound. It definitely has to get more interesting.
LAYER 5: When I started watching this Coldplay video, I was not expecting funny. Cool? Sure. But funny was completely unexpected. But it's not un-Coldplay. In a radio spot, if you can add a dimension that is still true to the brand, but completely new, you've probably got some Mercury Radio material on your hands.