Making Commercials: Forming Ideas

You've met with the client, toured the business, and have pages of notes. Now it's time to take all that information and conceptualize a great commercial. In this segment we cover creating the concept, choosing a style of advertising, and pitching the idea to the client. Understanding these concepts will help you form a solid idea to get the go ahead from your client

Video Transcript

Ok. You've made it this far... You've met with the client, toured the business, and have pages of notes. Now it's time to take all that information and conceptualize a great commercial. In this segment we cover creating the concept, choosing a style of advertising, and pitching the idea to the client. Understanding these concepts will help you form a solid idea to get the go ahead from your client. With all the information you've collected, it's entirely possible that you already came up with the perfect idea, and if that's the case, all you need to do is refine it and work on your pitch. But in most cases, you'll still have some work to do. Armed with your notes and knowledge, here's your mission - to pull a clear message out of the raw material you've got. Often times, just getting started is the hardest part, so here are a few ways to get going. Take your client's idea and formulate it into a completed concept. Using their ideas as a seed can really help when it comes time for the approval process. Plus, many clients love telling their friends, "...this part was my idea", and it never hurts to stroke the ego of someone who may become a regular client. You can also try building your concept around the points that "have" to be in the commercial. If the client doesn't reveal these "must have" points, then it's up to you to read between the lines and prioritize your information. If all else fails, don't be afraid to contact them again for some follow up questions. If your notes don't reveal an obvious focus for the commercial, think about the visual possibilities you saw at the business. Some businesses look ready to shoot when you walk in, and that may help you define a commercial concept. For instance, furniture stores will usually have a small tableau already set up for bedrooms, offices, and living rooms, so simply incorporating these into a concept might be enough. But many other types of businesses might not have such obvious scenes, so you'll have to consider some alternatives to display the business in it's best light. This can be very difficult. You might have to limit yourself to closeups to avoid seeing clutter, or shoot on location for a service-based business. These limitations can actually help you figure out the best concept for the commercial. Use all the information you've gathered to decide what approach is the best way to "sell" the idea and best serve the client's needs. The best looking commercial in the world isn't "great" if the message isn't targeted enough to be effective. This leads us into our next section. Types of Commercial advertising. Anyone watching TV has seen that there are different styles of commercials for different products. And different tones or moods for the demographics of the target customers. Let's use auto manufacturers as an example. Think about a full size truck commercial. The truck will be driving through mud or hauling some type of equipment. The music will be driving and the voice-over or narration will generally be a male with a low voice that try and give the impression that, "real men drive big trucks". Conversely, the mini-van commercial may feature kids piling in after soccer practice. The music will often be subtle and whimsical. The voice over will generally be a much more friendly, reassuring voice. Despite their differences, both of these approaches are considered to be "passive" advertising. They tell the recipient, "If you need us, we're here for you." They just use a different tone to push the message to the intended demographic. On the opposite end of the spectrum, think of the same car dealer's annual Labor Day sale. They're still selling cars and trucks, but you'll notice their approach is much different. The message is generally something to the effect of: "We have lots of inventory! Don't miss out on the savings!" The voice is high energy and it provides a sense of immediacy. This is known as "Aggressive" or "Active" advertising. The goal is to get people moving right away. It's a great approach for limited time offers and sales. Regardless of the style you prefer, each one has distinct advantages and intended results. Be sure to be subjective while you are choosing which style to use. Now, two different styles of advertising lead to two distinct types of commercials as you may have noticed from the examples. The passive approach leads to an "Image" or "Branding" spot. The purpose of these spots is to keep the business name fresh in the minds of the customer. Brands like Coca-Cola, Ford and McDonalds excel at this type of advertising. And they help build a favorable public image of a company.The image spot takes advantage of "passive advertising" and is generally less invasive.For smaller businesses, this type of spot works great as an "evergreen" spot or one that can be used in any season. The benefit to the client is that it won't become outdated too quickly. Not to mention, It also gives you more opportunity to flex the creative muscles. An aggressive style targets your client's demographic with a "Direct Response" call. This means that the commercial will seek to get an immediate response from viewers. In advertising, this is also known as a "Call to Action". Small businesses rely on these type of spots to promote sales or limited time offers. They typically have a shelf life of a few weeks to a couple months and usually include specific dates, times or events. Before we move on, let's review some of the concepts we've learned. "Passive Advertising" uses "Branding or Image Spots". The purpose is to keep the business in the mind of the customer: "If you need us, we're here for you." and can be run for a much longer time. An "Active" or "Aggressive" Advertising style typically results in "Direct Response Spots" that contain a "Call to Action". These spots work best for limited time offers and sales. So, you've defined your message, and you've got a handle on the approach. Now comes pitching the idea to the client. Don't get intimidated. Even baseball players get three strikes when they're up to bat. When prepping for the pitch. Try to have your thoughts completely worked out. You don't necessarily need a completed script, but don't walk in with just an off the cuff idea. The more vague your idea, the more likely the client will reject it. You should definitely have a script outline completed. Include some shot examples. What will the client see in the final commercial? - State whether or not there will be someone talking on camera - maybe the business owner, a local actor, or a satisfied customer. - If there's no one talking on camera, will there be a voice over? - If so, what kind of tone will the voice have? The clearer the picture you can paint for the client, the more likely they'll be to go with your idea.Once you've agreed on the concept, you'll need to write the script. Be sure that your audio and video have an appropriate pace and a clear message. The more specific your script is, the easier the rest of the process will be, so take your time. Be prepared for the client to review and change your script before moving forward. it's all part of the process. Now you're well on your way to being the next commercial genius. Remember what Robert Louis Stevenson said, "When I say writing, Oh, believe me, it is rewriting that I have chiefly in mind." In our next segment we talk about pre-production, and show you how to break down your approved script to prepare for your big commercial shoot.