Using Retail TV Graphics Successfully: 5 Tips to Consider

September 18, 2009

Graphics are a great way of supporting your advertising message. But if they’re not handled carefully, they’ll hurt the clarity of your commercial rather than enhancing it. Here are a few things to consider when adding prices, offers and logos:

1) Consider Letterbox.

Traditional Letterbox (see example below) places your commercial between two black bands, much like the format of your favorite DVD when you watch it widescreen. This usually requires planning before the TV shoot so the picture is condensed to fit the Letterbox size.

This format is wonderful for showing detail within a scene (because you’re condensing the picture), but it’s also a GREAT tool for placing graphics. Addresses, logos and phone numbers work beautifully when placed in a Letterbox format, keeping such elements from dominating your footage.

2) Restrict your color palette.

Be careful you don’t use all the colors of the rainbow when creating your “supers” (another word for on-screen graphics). It’s good to have some color variation (usually two colors) to compartmentalize the information so it’s read easily. Too many colors confuses the eye and detracts from the footage within the commercial.

3) Place your graphics consistently.

Don’t confuse the viewer by jumping all around the screen. Place graphics so that they enhance the message and don’t distract from it.  If you have a series of graphic elements, consider keeping them in the same placement.

4) Consider instances where the graphics may be more important than the footage.

If the footage is more or less the same throughout (i.e. rows of used cars or a showroom of random pieces of furniture), there may be an opportunity to let the graphics play a more dominant role within the message. In cases like this when large prices may cover most of the screen, try defocusing your background to enhance readability.

5) Introduce type elements in an interesting way.

If the pace of your retail commercial is “urgent,” consider introducing your type onscreen using motion. Your TV editor can offer a variety of ways to do so. This little trick spices things up, giving the price/super a life of its own.

And now for my disclaimer: The key to using the list above is knowing what’s appropriate for your audience and making choices with great care. A used car commercial and a financial services commercial targeting seniors are two different animals. In one, moving type and interesting visual tricks can add excitement. In the other, unrestrained stylistic choices can cheapen the message and appear distasteful. Determine the right tone for your commercial, and let it be your guide.

Here’s a commercial for a local car dealer that demonstrates all of the above.  


A Checklist for Better Retail TV Advertising

August 19, 2009

Fact: Nobody woke up this morning waiting to see your TV commercial.

Challenge: With thousands of messages fighting every day for consumers’ attention, why should they pay attention to yours? 

checklistThe Checklist

1)     Is your commercial “benefit” driven?

  • Your commercial must provide consumers with “real” benefits.  Hint: “Family owned and operated” is not one, nor are uncorroborated claims like “We won’t be undersold.”
  • Remember it’s not what you want to say, but what your customers want to hear that’s important.

 2)     Does your commercial help differentiate your business from the competition?

  • If you’re not unique on some dimension, you’re just a commodity. And commodities live and die on price only.
  • Blending in will kill your margins and eventually your business model.  Standing out ensures survival.

 3)     Is your commercial relevant to your target audience? 

  • TV advertising is not fairy dust … it can’t sell a product or service that consumers don’t want at prices they’re not willing to pay. TV advertising guarantees an audience – not success.

 4)     Is your commercial focused?

  • All display is no display.
  • When possible, boil the message down to one or two points of distinction.
  • A good commercial is designed to engage and persuade, not serve as an owner’s manual.

 5)     Does your commercial support your brand position?

  • Your commercial should reinforce the way you want consumers to think and feel about your brand.
  • It’s not always what you say, but how you say it (tone & manner) that often separates retail brands.

 6)     Does your commercial move prospects to the next level?

  • If it doesn’t then you don’t have a retail commercial, period.
  • Decide what action you want prospects to take (call for an appointment, visit your website, shop your stores, etc.) and develop your commercial with that focus in mind.