Just a few years ago, only the big guys could afford to shoot their commercials on 35mm film, while smaller companies had to settle for the harsh, cheap look of video tape.
The Canon 5D Mark II Digital Camera evens the playing field by delivering stunning, film-like images for 85% less. This Hi-Definition camera does it all from producing shallow depth of field to delivering rich, realistic scenes under low lighting conditions. The camera is so amazing, so film-like, that the Director of Photography for the award winning TV show “House” shot the entire 7th season on it!
And with the Canon 5D, you can do a lot more with less. Gone are the days of 15 person crews… lugging lights and equipment from scene-to -scene. A shot that took almost two hours to light for a film shoot, can now be lit to the same exact standards with a two-person crew in less than 45 minutes!
There’s little doubt that the Canon 5D has brought affordable, high-end TV production to the local advertiser.
Here’s hoping it won’t be wasted on the same low-end concepts?
TV advertising is not going anywhere, just evolving. It’s always been about getting consumers to act, and incorporating the use of today’s smartphone applications is the newest way to bring more
impact to your TV commercials.
According to a study done by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), in 2010, 33% of U.S. households owned a smartphone. With that number estimated to skyrocket to 45% by 2012, advertisers are already starting to adopt the use of mobile applications in their TV campaigns.
Brands like Tide® and Old Navy® have recently integrated the music identification application, Shazam® into current TV commercials. It’s simple too, no typing in long URLs or performing lengthy Google searches. The commercials feature songs, so all the consumer has to do is open up the Shazam® application and let it identify the song playing in the ad. From there they will have options to go straight to that brand’s website, purchase product, etc. With the Old Navy® ad you even have the option to buy the outfit the person is wearing in the ad!
This new trend will not only make TV ads more interactive for consumers, but allow advertisers to more accurately measure the performance of the ads while tracking TV conversions.
Integrating mobile apps into your TV advertisements works well all around – the consumer gets to interact with the ad while the advertisers are able to more easily direct traffic to brands’ websites. Shazam® is just the beginning; as this advertising tactic grows, the variety of applications available for integration will most likely grow as well.
Music, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful yet underutilized tools in advertising.
Anyone who remembers the mid-70s also remembers:
Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a Sesame Seed Bun!!
Thirty years later I can still hum this old McDonald’s commercial. Times have changed, and trends in advertising music have definitely changed, but music’s role in advertising is as relevant as ever.
The biggest problem in today’s jingles is executions that push TOO HARD to make the viewer feel a certain way about the brand. Watching TV the other night, I saw a commercial for a local carpet store. At the end, a singer belts out gleefully:
JB factory carpets … the biggest … the best … always the lowest price!
I have to question whether I believe the singer’s sincerity. Is she really that happy about JB’s selection of fine carpets? Doubtful. And neither are the viewers. It’s the classic mistake of an advertiser talking about themselves, rather than addressing the viewers wants from the viewer’s point of view. Or maybe it’s the trite use of “biggest and best” … which ranks right up there with other homogenous phrases like “we won’t be undersold.”
True, the old McDonalds piece is a list of what you get on a burger. But it had charm and invited viewers to participate in seeing whether or not they could remember the list. And most importantly, the singers never hit you over the head with a refrain of “limited time only.”
Like many jingles in the 80s, the music painted a happy vibe that viewers associated with the brand. Remember Dr. Pepper’s “I’m a pepper, you’re a pepper”? And Toyota’s “I love what you do for me? Major advertisers haven’t forgotten how music can build brands …the executions have simply evolved.
Ba da ba-ba-ba … I’m Lovin’ It.
Indeed, I am. Here, McDonalds does it again. The music (and singers) establish an emotional connection with the listener, letting the Voice Over do the selling. The overall result is a commercial that reminds customers that McDonalds is more than just a value menu – but an experience you WANT to have.
Of course, there are times when the singer/music has to contribute a little more muscle within the message. Like singing the phone number for example. Just make sure the melody isn’t overly sappy if the lyrics are little more than a set of digits.
The music in this commercial humorously plugs the word “Free” 9 times within the span of 15 seconds. This is a perfect example of music conveying a very pointed message.
Here, a musical sting at the end of the spot reinforces the phone number. This is a more aggressive example of using music to achieve a very specific communication goal.
Creativity in advertising should be anything but formulaic. A good idea, powerful visuals, a great voice over talent and a strong script will go a long way.
However, there’s something to be said for structure. Notice I said “structure” and not “formula.” The process demonstrated here shows how structuring the message can help viewers retain the message.
While this example shows the beginning, the middle, and the end of a retail TV commercial that communicates successfully, it’s important to note that variables can shift based on the complexity and amount of information.
1) Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Start by telling your customers the “news.” If the commercial is about a special sale, tell them what it is. Better yet, find a hook people can remember.
VO: At Florida Leather Gallery, think FREE times THREE! …
2) Tell them.
Now add the details. Reference any specific product shots, prices or particular offers. In this segment, the price/offer statement should be featured.
VO: … For a limited time, get free delivery, 2 full years free financing, and we’ll even pay your sales tax!
(Onscreen, a viewer sees graphics that coincide with the voice over and further support the offer):
1. FREE / Free delivery
2. FREE / Two years free financing
3. FREE / We’ll pay your sales tax
3) Tell them what you told them.
You’re running out of time, so focus on restating the sale name /hook/offer so they the main message stays with them.
VO: What are you waiting for! Think FREE, times THREE!
MUSIC/SINGER: Florida Leather Gallery!
A good structure will keep your message from getting confusing or convoluted. It’ll also keep you disciplined in making sure your message works within the small window of a 30-second TV commercial (or 15 seconds, as with the example above.)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The problem with a lot of TV commercials is that the offer is buried. All joke, and little homage paid to the offer. But let’s examine the flip side. A TV commercial that simply beats the consumer over the head with an offer does a poor job of engaging a viewer’s interest.
Let’s be honest, nobody watches TV looking for ads, if you can’t engage the viewer’s interest, your message will fall on def ears.
Therein lies advertising’s oldest challenge. How do you capture your consumer’s interest AND get them to listen to your sales message? The world famous Young & Rubicam advertising agency put it beautifully when they described their definition of the word Impact: anything that enlivens a customer’s mind to receive a sales message.
Sounds extremely simple, but the process can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, your starting place is always the same. Find the connection between your offer and the consumer’s motivation to act on it. Then, and only then, can you start getting “creative.”
If it’s a price discount, maybe there’s an interesting way to make “price” the creative idea within the commercial. Here’s an example: a barbecue restaurant is selling all-you-can-eat chicken for $6 instead of $9. In the commercial, a sculpted sign is dropped down over a plate of mouth-watering chicken. As the voice over makes the big price drop announcement, a hand dramatically turns the $9 into a $6. Yes, the offer is front and center, but the idea combines the incentive with the “creative aha moment” viewers want.
CAPTION: Who said price and item advertising can’t be creative. Here, the price discount was big news – and thus the central idea within the commercial.
What’s your message? Convenience? Superior service? Value? Authenticity? Once you’ve boiled it down, think of what it means to your customer. And then find the most dramatic way of making your point – without straying off message. The result will be a commercial people remember, and an offer that consumers are motivated to act on.
You don’t need a big budget to have a big idea. In fact, lots of great TV commercials have been produced based on the merit of simple ideas.
Two or three years ago, Nissan did a TV campaign for its Z sports coupe using little more than dramatic, sepia tone still photography of the car in action. Viewers saw still shots of the car handling hairpin curves … smoking its tires on the pavement, etc. There was no script, only a powerful music track until the very end of the commercial where a single line of type appeared: “Words fail.”
Nissan could have spent seven figures on a single TV spot for its legendary Z, but instead, the agency chose to present a simple idea based on its own merits, rather than trying to hock an overly slick TV production. I seriously doubt that the goal was to save money. And I doubt the commercial was created for under $10K. But it’s a perfect example of still photography replacing an expensive motion picture shoot – successfully!
Still photography is a powerful tool. But there are more…
Take for example stock footage. If the core advertising message of a financial services firm is financial stability, consider dramatic footage of a full moon rising in the night sky and a voice over that says, earnestly and intimately: “Sleep well, even if the stock market goes bump in the night.”
True, using stock footage requires creativity. You have to find ways to adapt an idea or a message to something that already exists. But if done correctly, you’ll get a national looking campaign for a fraction of what it would normally cost.
Other inexpensive yet highly engaging spots use motion graphics, typography and witty writing to engage a viewer’s interest with the advertising message. A solid idea and a talented motion graphics editor can go a long, long way.
On the verge of exceeding your budget? Keep in mind, assets like custom jingle packages and animated logo treatments can be used again and again in future commercials, so there are major economies of scale working in your favor.
Even if you spend more than 10K for your first campaign, future campaigns may cost half that if you can reuse your most expensive elements.
Here, stock footage is used to promote a financial services firm. Our agency creative director produced this spot along with two others for $7,500.
So, what good is a retail TV commercial, if a day later you can’t recall who the commercial was for? It’s not enough to entertain the masses; your commercial must have above average brand recall if you want to make the cash register ring.
The following companies get that. And that’s why they were named as Nielsen’s Top 10 Most Memorable Ads for July 2009.
The list is based on the top recall scores of new commercials that ran in July. The Recall Score is the percentage of TV viewers who can recall the brand of an ad within 24 hours they were exposed to it during the normal course of viewing TV. These scores are then indexed against the mean score of all new ads during the period (Recall Index).
A score of 100 equals average. For example, with a Recall Index of 245, the top ranked Pizza Hut ad has proven to be over 2.4 times more memorable than the average new commercial that aired in the month of July.
Now that I got that out of the way … sit back and enjoy!
And don’t forget to come back next month to see who made the August list …