In today’s blog we’re going to skip over the nuanced strategies of buying television advertising with its gross impressions, rating points, day parts, cost per point, reach, frequency, blah, blah, blah and go right to the fun stuff: production!
We’ve all seen bad TV advertising. We’ve all seen good advertising. We’ve even seen advertising that actually worked, though we probably didn’t recognize it at the time. But every television commercial we’ve ever seen, good or bad, had this in common: the device.
The device is the framework on which a TV spot is built. The variety of ideas or premises available are only limited by your imagination, but when it comes to the device used to present your premise, your choices are limited to the following:
- Narration. This approach utilizes an omniscient narrator to tell us a story. The visuals augment the voiceover, give detail to the narrative, sometimes even conflict with the narrative. The characters go about their business as if unaware that we are watching them. This is a good device to use when you need to explain the benefits of your product with some detail. It’s also a good approach when don’t have professional actors.
- Dialogue. Here, you present your idea through a conversation between two or more people. The characters interact with each other while we eavesdrop. This device is best used when the benefits of a product are easily explained and your talent can pull off a natural conversation.
- Testimonial. With this method, the characters interact directly with the audience. They’re basically having a one-way conversation with the viewer, telling us their story. This is a good device to use to create a connection between specific peer groups or leverage the celebrity of spokesperson.
- The Sight Gag. This device relies primarily on a visual presentation to tell the story. This can be hard to pull off as it may not be clear what the viewer is seeing, what it means, and how it is relevant to them, but interesting visuals can be a powerful attention-getter as long as they can pay off the premise within 30 seconds.
If you’re crafting a television commercial, give careful thought to the device you will use to present your selling proposition. Be sure that your method fits your premise, effectively explain your benefits, and pay off your idea with an easily understood call to action.