You thought that maybe I wasn’t posting this week. That maybe I chickened out or got distracted or wiped out on my longboard.
Well I did wipeout on the longboard, (that’s not me though ^). But I’m fine. Like him, I know how to land dramatically.
This week I decided that the world, you actually, needed a bit of an introduction into the art of writing for the media. I work for a company that creates commercials and web ads (also other things media related), and I’ve trained extensively in writing. I guess you could call it a strength.
So I wrote a TV ad this week.
I’m really fascinated by the ads that are able to tell an entire story in such a short amount of time. The ads that at the end you almost want to clap or cry because in those brief moments you were able to see into the human experience in a funny or touching way. Yesterday the Superbowl brought us a Budweiser ad about a puppy who is best friends with a Clydesdale.
Some of the group around me found this ad very sweet. I’m sure that the makers thought that this would cause sales to go up. (I thought it had creepy subliminal messaging contrary to the song in the background.) Why did they create this ad in the way that they did? Well, let’s chat about that.
Fact #1: Ads exist to cause people to spend money on the product.
Fact #2: Ads are supposed to be geared toward the specific people who might want/need the product. Example: diaper ads are usually geared toward women between the ages of 18-35, who are pregnant, or just had a kid (or adopted). I say usually, of course.
How do you get people to take notice of your particular product? First you find out who wants/needs it.
If I’m a gourmet coffee company, who drinks gourmet coffee? This isn’t the moment where you get judgy. Generalities are just what they are–generalities. It is accurate to say that most people under the age of 14 don’t drink coffee. So I’m not likely to write a commercial to entice 6-year-olds to drink my company’s coffee.
I choose to market my coffee to adults between the ages of 17-35, who might be skaters, hipsters, artists, careerists and dreamers.* Okay, now what? What do those people like? What do they value? What do they relate to? Who do they relate to?
These questions will help me as the writer determine how to craft my ad. Because I know a lot about this “category” of people (I’m in it), it’s easier to imagine what they will or won’t like, and the images to which they will relate. Of course, I also know that this group of people is EXTREMELY diverse. I could write a funny story, like the Allstate commercials with Mayhem, or the Budweiser ad with the chainsaw man. Or I could go for beauty and realism, like the Honda commercial about how today is pretty great.
There’s a lot of options. But as long as I know my audience, I can move forward with my idea.
One of the harder parts of writing ads is the length. There are different venues for ads now, which allows some companies to expand on the length. Like Hulu. Hulu ads can be 90 seconds long (or longer), which is on the long side of advertising. I like them for that reason–they can tell more of a story.
I had trouble making my ad short enough and still conveying everything that I wanted to convey. It’s about 90 seconds long, and I bet it could be edited shorter if it needed to be on TV or in front of a Youtube video. If I make it this year, I’ll post the results.
Until then, here’s a mock ad that I made.
Longboard Gevalia Commercial Draft 2
*Just because an ad is geared toward a certain audience doesn’t mean that it won’t appeal to people outside that audience. The special thing about the Superbowl Budweiser ad this year is that it seems to appeal to a much wider audience than they usually go for. Keep this in mind when you write your own ad.