So You Want to Do a TV Commercial?

There are as many theories on the best way to do a TV commercial as there are Oscar presenters. Spend an evening watching your favorite TV show in real time and see how many commercials you remember the next day. OK, so you can flashback to a couple of them: What did they say? Who were they for? Did their message actually apply to you or was it a complete miss?

An advertiser has two major demons to conquer, just to reach the potential customer. First, they have to break through the constant bombardment of advertising we all endure each day, and second, they are constantly challenged by our increasingly shorter attention spans.

Of course, you want your TV commercial to stand out. But how many advertising messages does an average person see each day? Estimates range anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000. Let’s stick with just the 3,000 figure, for argument’s sake.

Out of the many TV commercials you’ve seen recently, chances are you can probably recall just a few. They might be the ones you really like, the ones that were clever, or the ones you can’t stand. Annoying is one way to get noticed, but you may find your commercial is actively avoided as well. A consumer will only allow themselves to be repeatedly exposed to a message they enjoy or don’t mind hearing. Entertain them and they’ll watch the same message over and over and over. Make your commercial clever and entertaining enough and people will pass it around on YouTube, giving you even more exposure for free.

While I’ve got you, some advice regarding both radio and television commercials: avoid Ad-Speak. Over the years, I talked with car dealers who wanted to use phrases like “great customer service”, “a huge selection”, and other classic lines that have been used to death in commercials. Even though those are positive attributes and may be true, car commercials have “burned out” those phrases over the years and turned them into Ad-Speak, which consumers just plain tune out. Fill up your commercial with the same claims every other car dealer is making, and you’ve wasted 30-seconds that could have been used to pass along a meaningful message.

Keep it simple. Put in too much in your commercial and your customers won’t remember a thing. It’s not a print ad, it’s a camera that opens its lens to a consumer’s mind, trying to imprint something in 30-seconds. You always want the viewer to leave with a good feeling about your company or your product so when they realize a need, yours is the product that first comes to mind.

Stick with what’s real and relatable. With animation evolving more and more to resemble real life, with reality TV shows distorting our concepts of “What is real”, we need to connect further with listeners. If we can have customers speaking instead of a company talking head, you’ll come off as more believable. If your company has a spokesperson, make them likable, funny. and someone the viewer or listener enjoys.

While radio allows you to multitask while listening, TV can be a very engaging medium, IF done correctly. Know your target and what would get their attention and then play to it, cater to it, make your commercial something they have to see. They will watch.

And me, too.