How to analyze your commercials for better results.
What do you require of your TV commercials? If all you want is “a little top-of-mind awareness,” click off this page right now. You aren’t the sort of Product Manager who needs to read this.
If, on the other hand, your answer is “Move some units,” “Build a brand,” “Get prospects into dealerships,” “Convince category users to switch to our brand,” or “Fight off a competitor,” then stick around; we have a simple and useful analytical technique that will help you make each of your commercials work harder.
We start with this principle: the better media buys you make, the better your commercials need to be. If you have weak, inane and ineffective commercials in great time slots at high frequency, you’ll deliver your insipid advertising to a huge audience with admirable efficiency — thus, blowing your chance to achieve some real career-enhancing business results.
We also start with the premise that the sole function of any of your commercials is to make the audience do something as a result of all the work and money you’ve put out. Nobody should get a free ride on your advertising; that is, no one should be able to consume your advertising without also trying the product. If all you want is a “little top of mind awareness,” buy some outdoor advertising: it’s probably cheaper.
Determining how much of your commercial is working is simple and easy — and requires nothing more than a stopwatch, recording device, and a reel of your latest brand commercials.
You simply time the “working” scenes, add ‘em up, and voila! You know how much of each :30 is actually working for your brand. How much is actually selling, as opposed to getting ready, preparing a mood, being charming, or otherwise wasting time on irrelevancies.
Be thorough in your analysis. Check both audio and visual. Then turn off the audio, and see how much visual selling your spot is doing. (You might be surprised.)
Here’s what to look for in your commercials:
- Scenes (short ones) at the opening of the commercial designed specifically to attract your desired target audience. Such scenes work to bring in the right prospects for your Brand. Keep those scenes in. They’re working.
- Opening scenes devoted to “creating a mood” are probably wasting time that could better be used on the product. It’s always a good idea to throw out all “mood setting” scenes (along with the creative group that so volubly defends them in presentation meetings).
- Product shots are fine. You should have at least two of them per commercial, and they should take up no less than 20% of the total air time. (God forbid you should have so little product identification that some potential buyer might think your terribly persuasive copy was plugging a different brand — and as a result, go out and buy that)
- Jokes, on the other hand, are usually not fine. They’re so rarely relevant to the product or commercial message they’re almost unexceptionably a waste of good commercial time. Chuck all jokes out; they usually ingratiate only the friends of the creative team.
- Scenes showing problems of not using the product are okay — if they’re short and segue immediately into scenes showing the advantages of using the product.
- Scenes showing the end-result benefit of solving problems by use of the product are always acceptable. They should make up the majority of the time spent in your commercial. This is where you pay the rent — with compelling scenes of your product’s benefits and advantages.
- Demonstrations of how your product is better, or produces a more desirable result are great. Use them lavishly. Remember that Bounty went from zero to a commanding share in the paper towel category by using :21 worth of demos per commercial — which left only :09 for other visuals (all told, probably not a bad thing).
- Immediately reject any shot with flying doves, swirling leaves, or running brooks — unless you’re actually selling those particular commodities.
Okay, you now have timed all scenes, and can arrive at some conclusions. If your commercial scores in the range of the following numbers of seconds, you can:
:0-:l0 — Clear a space on your desk for the Clio or Cannes Gold Lion your commercial will undoubtedly win. You’ll also need plenty of room on your desk for your resumes, which you will be sending out in quantity right after the next share numbers are in.
:10-:20 — Fair; but you’d better call your agency to set up an earnest discussion of strategy and business objectives.
:20-:30 — Good for you. You understand advertising, and are likely to be successful at it. Go to the head of the class.
MRA’s experts understand advertising, too. We work to improve the advertising and cost performance for national and global clients in all sorts of categories. Interested in learning more? Let’s schedule a time to chat.
Casting On-Camera Principal roles can sometimes be a difficult part of the production process because so much is riding on a compelling, credible performance.
Want to keep your next casting selection running as smoothly as possible? Follow the guidelines below, and you’ll be well on your way!
#1 – Casting Specifications
Review and approve casting specifications complete with enough clear, useful detail to define the roles the casting director is being asked to fill.
- “35-45 male, good looking bot not too ‘Modelly’…” can be interpreted in may ways. Add relevant details.
- When pinning an age to a role, be clear this is a “looks like” age and not a chronological age. Many re-cast sessions have been called because the callbacks were “too young” or “too old.”
- Share a relevant and tangible key motivation to the role description as a starting point: “…he is a retail store manager who is authoritative and confident but not arrogant…”
- It can be easy to have too much style direction, so choose the clearest and most defining.
#2 – Timing
Allow sufficient time for specs alignment prior to casting and for review & approval of agency recommendations.
- Specs should be reviewed at the pre-bid meeting so there is time for corrections, if needed, prior to the award.
- The conversation, however, can start earlier as the script is evolving and approved: Consider having the creative team include a profile of who the character is in the original script and storyboard. Will this change over time? Perhaps, but it provides insight into what the copywriter is thinking. You may or may not be in agreement, but it’s a place to start the conversation with a “flesh and bones” development.
- Establish a regular approval process: Casting selects should be posted within a set number of days before your pre-production meeting, allowing enough time for review and alignment across all stakeholders.
#3 – Criteria for Evaluation
90% of the performance you will see on shoot day will be present in the casting select files. Establish criteria for what will show the range in delivery. Don’t expect the director to be able to “pull” a performance out of an actor who doesn’t demonstrate an ability to deliver the performance in audition.
- Reading the whole script vs. select lines: If the talent read the whole script, remember that unless this is is a one-take monologue / presenter role, the script will be read several times in different scenes with different emphasis.
- Choose one line and ask it to be read 3 times in a row – with different deliveries and intensities.
Remember, like everything else in commercial production — from creative development to editorial — casting is a process. If it feels rushed, too complex, or confusing — contact us…we may be able to help.