Which is harder to create: a short story or a novel? Most writers will tell you a short story is far more challenging. With a novel, you have 100,000 words to weave your tale and meander up to the point. With a short story, you have to get the job done in 15,000 or so. The same is true of a commercial. In 30 to 90 seconds, you need to capture your audience’s attention and deliver your message — with impact.
Tall order! Here’s how you nail it:
1. Stay on Brand. It sounds corny, and it is, but stay true to yourself. Who are you? When your audience hears your name, what do you want them to think about and feel? Your brand is shaped around your mission and values, and consistency creates awareness and a more authentic experience for current and potential customers.
Bumble hits an ace with this commercial featuring Serena Williams.
Bumble was founded to “challenge the antiquated rules of dating.” On this dating app, women always make the first move. The script is spot-on: “Don’t wait to be told your place. Take it…. Don’t wait to be given power. Because here’s what they won’t tell you: We already have it.” It aligns perfectly with Bumble’s mission and values.
Or you could make a tone deaf mistake, like Gillette. Their brand is built on the “The Best a Man Can Get” tagline. Razors and a clean shave. That’s what its customers want. When they veered off course with their “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be” ad, they alienated their target audience — and pretty much everyone else.
It’s great to take a chance. In fact, it’s necessary. But make sure your risks are calculated, strategic, and on-brand.
2. Be Creative. Speaking of risks… creativity allows you to explore new ground, without wandering off into the weeds. Again, you must stay true to your brand. But within those parameters, you can find new and fresh ways to tell your story. Volvo does just that with their “Epic Split” commercial. Check it out:
It could have been a typical — read: boring — spot that focuses on features and technicalities of Volvo Dynamic Steering. Instead, they turned it into something… well, epic. With help from none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme himself, they used creativity to drive home the point that they offer superior precision and stability.
3. Build a Solid Cast. If Serena and Jean-Claude aren’t available for your commercial, don’t worry: you can still win your audience over with your star power. You just have to be a little more creative (we love that word). In this Carplex commercial, for example, a kid is the star of the show.
Paid actors may be a solution, but you can also feature employees, happy customers, partners, a cute kid… anyone who has been touched by your solutions. This gives your commercial the touch of authenticity and realism you need to connect with your audience.
4. Script for Maximum Impact. Remember our short story analogy: you need to deliver your message in about a minute. Every word matters. Once again, Serena crushes it in this Nike ad:
Every. Single. Word. They’re all on-point, they build to the story Nike wants to tell, and they encapsulate the very identity of the brand. It also helps that Ms. Williams speaks with such conviction and passion. Check out our blog and podcast on this stellar ad.
The same holds true here: you don’t need a tennis legend in your commercial. You do need a tightly constructed script that conveys your message — and a cast who conveys belief in that message.
5. Don’t Settle for “Local Commercial” Quality. There’s a misconception that unless you’ve got a Nike-sized budget, you have to settle for video that looks like it was shot in some guy’s garage. Not so. This Carplex commercial was completed after a three hour shoot and cost only $5000.
It’s sharp, polished, and effective. With creativity and innovation, working budgets can be maximized. As can your results.
You’ve got 30 - 90 seconds to grab your audience’s attention and deliver an on-brand message. Ready to tell your story — differently, professionally, emotionally, and with impact?