14 tips for Spectacular Television Commercials

1. Always stick to one selling idea:

How to Get Your Message Across: A Film and Videotape PrimerBeing a fast-paced medium that has to convey message in a matter of a few seconds, we should restrict to one major selling idea. Diffused communication does not get across the viewers. The novel USP or the big idea produces a lasting impact. Most ads are overcrowded with one-product attributes. Even with 40 seconds, there is room for only one central idea.

2. Whenever possible, show the product in use:

Demonstration of the product is one key advantage of TV and whenever possible product should be shown in use. Stubborn stain on clothes and demonstration of Ariel’s effectiveness is an example.

3. Use more visuals and fewer words:

TV commercial is essentially a picture story.
It should use minimum copy.


4. Show the package:

 Either at the beginning or the middle or preferably at the end, the product and its package must be shown.

5. Avoid visual clichés:

resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform AudiencesIf viewers can anticipate the visual images of the commercial, the impact of the commercial would be lesser. Visuals should be uncommon and unique. Stereotyped visuals lack effect.

6. Close-ups:

Product close-ups for sensory-stimulation are used for ice-creams, chocolate bars etc.

7. Opening with a surprise:

Since only a few seconds are available, we should arrest the attention of viewers by introducing the first frame with an element of surprise. The ‘inevitable surprise’ evokes more than a desired response in the target audience; and has been linked to creativity by Ivan Arthur and Gopi Kukde.

8. Jingles:

Jingles have great value for India’s audiences who like lyrics and melody. They are useful to create brand awareness, and have a high re-call value.

9. Make actors talk:

The cast in the commercial should do most of the talking. VO should be reserved for some comments at the end.

10. Supers:

Brand name/product benefit can be super-imposed on screen to reinforce the oral message.

11. Identify the Brand:

It is advisable to identify the advertised brand in the first 10 seconds. Later, the brand name be repeated.

12. Use emotional approach:

The emotional magic works wonderfully. Remember the magic reel of Rath Vanaspati commercial. Parents coo over a little baby in a crib. The camera pulls back. We see a boy watching first with envy and then sadness (sibling rivalry). The sullen boy goes up and sits at the bottom of the stairs. He feels left out and hurt. He is angry too. But mum has caught on. She cooks a little treat in Rath vanaspati, and takes it across to him. Slowly he smiles, he is loved after all. It is a gripping emotional story line. It is credible. It gives a sense of involvement. Such films cannot be short-duration (say 20 or 15 seconds) since these cannot lend themselves to emotional treatment.

The commercial must be given a deep psychological appeal. Here we communicate to reach the deeper recesses of human mind. The consumers then identify themselves with the brand. For instance, Woodward’s Gripe Water and Vicks Vapo Rub commercials are good examples.

13. Use metaphors:

Amul Ghee- 1lbThey have a long life as ideas in advertising communications. They lend themselves to easy execution and can be used in sustained manner. For instance, AI’s Maharaja, Liril girl Priety Zinta under the waterfall, Lalitaji in Surf, Amul girl in butter ads is examples of metaphors.

14. Repeat the idea:

The same idea is repeated in different forms, though the idea remains constant. Lux – a beauty soap is endorsed by different stars. Limca is a thirst drink in different ways.