The process of writing an effective TV commercial begins long before you put pen to paper. All ads are not created to accomplish the same goal and so the first thing you need to do is define clearly what the goal of your commercial is. Is it to build your brand equity? In which case your message may need to communicate more aspirational attributes and be more emotional than rational. Or is meant to reinforce a rational attribute and tell consumers why they need to repeat their purchase of your product or service. Or is it a call to action ad – call to action ads typically have a sense of urgency attached – such as a sale, a limited time offer or the announcement of a new product or feature.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you won’t know how to evaluate your commercial and it’s critical to evaluate your ad within the context of what you set out to accomplish.
Once you’ve established your objective you need to put down a brief for your Agency or production company. A brief defines the brand problem that needs to be solved and the key message that needs to be communicated to achieve the task. Remember, simplicity is key. You’ve got 30 seconds to deliver your message and hopefully convince your consumer to act. The more specific your message, the better. General, generic messages lead to general, generic commercials that are forgotten even before they’re over. So keep your brief clear, concise and to the point.
Tell a story, not an ad.
Once you’ve got a clear, concise brief it’s time to get down to creating your ad. Remember, people don’t switch on their TVs to watch ads. They switch it on their TVs to watch shows that interest them. If you want their attention, you need to interest them. One of the best ways of doing that is through a good story. Good stories are engaging, have a strong emotional element and most importantly are remembered. If all your commercial has is your product, people are less likely to watch it. But if your product is woven into a great story not only will people engage with it, they’ll remember it.
As a rule consumers don’t believe ads. So your commercial doesn’t just need to fight to get their attention, it needs to be credible enough to motivate an action. You need to ensure that whatever message you’re communicating has credibility. One way to do this is to ensure you can substantiate your message or claim. For example, if you claim to be the best, then back it up with facts – awards you’ve won, customer satisfaction reports, or the sheer number of customers you already have. A believable and relevant message will always prompt an action.
Do the unexpected.
We are creatures of habit and that means we tend to remember anything that’s unexpected or out of the routine. Unexpected events that are humorous, ironic or unique in character also tend to engage us more. If you’re announcing a new product or feature, then an unexpected twist is a great way to do it. Doing the unexpected is a powerful way to be remembered and get consumers to act on your message.
The most powerful types of connections are emotional connections. Getting your consumers to emotionally engage with your commercial is great way to get your message heard and acted on. If consumers can relate to the characters in your ad and empathize with them then your commercial is that much more powerful. Emotional triggers leave long lasting impressions and are critical to building long term brand equity. So use emotion.
Making a good, effective TV commercial can be a complex task. But if you have a well-defined objective, a simple, concise brief and your commercial tells a powerful story then you’re well on the way to success. Pencil sharp? Go for it!