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Best Practices for Creating TV Ads: Why Professionals Make all the Difference

By March 23, 2016Blog
best practices for creating TV ads
Matt Sager

Matt Sager

“Every great ad tells a story.” Any fan of the acclaimed AMC series, Mad Men, will recognize this quote. Spoken by the show’s principle character, Don Draper, it’s a line of dialogue that speaks to a fundamental truth of advertising.

The right ad not only will tell your business’ story, but it also can make your phones ring and your website light up with leads. When creating an ad, you want to be able to tell a compelling story that will motivate customers to believe in your product or service.

To make that happen, however, it takes a gifted storyteller who knows the nuances of this medium. Read on to learn some key best practices for ad creation, and why having a professional working on your behalf can mean the difference between success and failure.

Pre-Production is Key

A great majority of the time it takes to create a TV commercial will be spent in the pre-production phase. During this time, every shot is mapped out, every camera angle envisioned, and every line of dialogue decided upon.

The more time that goes into the pre-production process, the more time and money you can save later (by many orders of magnitude) when it comes time to shoot. This process may seem slow and tedious, but the professional ad man knows to be patient; the vision for your story is being fine-tuned before a single camera has been turned on.

Actors vs. Real People: When to Make the Call

This is definitely a question that comes up with every television ad: Should you use an actor to portray your message, or is it better to feature an actual member of your staff? There are benefits to either approach.

A professionally trained and experienced actor will look and feel much more comfortable on camera. This individual can present your message in a particular way that will make the consumer feel comfortable with what they’re seeing. However, using your actual staff to tell your story can come across as more raw and believable.

When you watch a TV spot, it’s fairly easy to tell who is an actor and who is not. In some cases, it can be more effective to use your actual employees. As consumers watching hours of TV, we tend to form a bond with the faces we see on screen. Imagine how your customers will

feel when the person who shows up at their door is the same person they saw on TV. It helps form an instant level of trust and comfort for the customer.

No matter who is used in the spot, getting them to sign a release waiver is extremely important. This allows the production company to use their image without worry of any lawsuit in the future.

Time to Shoot

Shoot day is here and everything is falling into place. The crew has arrived, cameras are being set up and the hustle and bustle of the set is overwhelming. You’re excited and nervous all at the same time. Remember, this is your time to shine, and the production crew is there to make sure you look your best.

Getting to Know the Players

There will be two people who are vital to the success of your ad shoot – the director and the producer. The producer is the one who has come up with the ultimate vision for the spot, and the director is there to make sure that that vision comes to life. Make sure you listen to these two very closely. They both will offer unique insights into what the final viewer will be seeing.

B-Roll Footage

We want your technicians and equipment to look great, so sometimes what is referred to as “B Roll” might be used. This is extra footage that is shot to be used as filler between other directive shots. There are many factors that go into getting the shot just right aside from making sure shirts are ironed and hair is fixed just right.

Rain Delays and Reshoots

Outside influences such as weather can have a huge impact on a shoot. Rain delays cannot only be annoying but costly as well. If a shoot gets canceled for a rain delay, the entire crew will have to be recalled and this can mean more money for hotel rooms and other travel expenses.

It is understood that you want to get your spot on air as soon as you can, and the people involved have done their best to watch weather forecasts and have scheduled accordingly. If rain does happen, though, there should be allowances built into the schedule just in case.

Reshoots can be scheduled, but they may not be able to happen right away, as the production crew may have other obligations. But rest assured, the spot will get shot in the best possible conditions.

Post-Production Time

The vision has been mapped out, the crew has captured everything on camera, and now it’s time to let everything come together. This process can take a bit of time, but if a sufficient amount of time spent in the pre-production process, this shouldn’t take too long. The producer will be taking this time to make sure that the spot is coming together exactly as it was originally conceived, while overseeing a crew of editors and junior producers.

Last Words

TV commercials can be fun, and they’re a great way to get exposure for your business. If your commercial is successful, then you’ll be able to build a level of trust and comfort between your company and your customer base. The best thing to remember is just to be yourself and relax.

Mediagistic can make this happen with our expert media production services. When you work with us, you’ll be surrounded by a team of advertising professionals whose sole job is to make sure you and your company look fantastic. With years of experience and consummate professionals behind the scenes, we will make sure your TV spot looks top notch!


Matt Sager is a Production Manager and In House Voice Over Talent for Mediagistic. With a B.A. in Television Production and Direction from the University of South Florida and a few years behind the mic at local radio stations, Matt’s experience makes him a perfect fit for his position at Mediagistic. In his free time he enjoys long rides on his motorcycle and consuming as much bacon as possible.