What Makes a Good TV Commercial

For the most part the majority of us try to avoid watching ads and commercials on TV. Often we simply tune out to them, or use the advertising intermission as a chance to go to the bathroom or make ourselves a coffee or a snack.

That being said, TV advertising does work, or companies wouldn’t be throwing billions of dollars towards TV commercials every year.

But what makes a good TV commercial? What will capture people’s attention so they not only pay attention to the ad and actually watch it, but also entice them to take action on the message being conveyed?


Realise That You Can’t Please Everybody

No matter what product or service you are trying to promote or how great your TV commercial turns out to be, you won’t please everybody. Not everyone is going to be interested in your message or product, and not everybody will tune into and focus on your commercial when it airs.

But what you do want to do is ensure you can capture the attention and engage as much of your intended audience as possible by creating a great TV ad; one that gets talked about and one that is memorable.


TV Commercial


Add Some Humour

Maybe not every TV commercial will be suited to adding humour, but if it can be scripted in – either in the delivery of dialogue or the action – then definitely do it. People respond to humour more than just about anything else, and in the case of TV advertising, injecting some humour instantly makes the brand more likeable and memorable.


Tug At the Heart Strings

Again, this will only work if the product, service or brand is relevant to creating an emotional ad that really pulls at the heart strings and engages the emotions of sadness, sympathy, longing or even desperation. Ads that really strike an emotional chord don’t necessarily have to be melancholy or negative though, they can also be about love, companionship and gratitude.




Memorable Icons Or Characters

Over the years there have been ads that are instantly recognisable; either because of a certain actor – possibly a well-known actor – or because of an icon that’s used as a gimmick. The Energiser Bunny is a prime example of the latter. Another could be Ronald MacDonald or the Hamburglar. Anything that makes your brand instantly recognisable is a good thing.


Make the Ad Stupid or Controversial

We’ve all heard that cliché that any publicity is good publicity. This is quite true. Why? Because it makes people remember something. It’s engaging in its own way. I’ve seen some of the most ridiculous and silly television commercials over the years, but guess what? It makes me remember the brand or the message. Controversial ads will get tongues wagging. In fact, the more controversial the more chance the ad has of going viral on social media and video channels. This will expand your advertising reach exponentially…and for free!


Target a Need

This is pretty obvious, and most products and services that exist are designed to fulfil wants, needs and desires of some description. The more desperate the need, the more the product will likely be in demand. If an advertiser has a product that slots nicely into this category, then that need must effectively be conveyed in the very brief length of time that the commercial runs.


Promote a Cheap or Free Deal

Bargains and giveaways always snare people’s attention. It’s human nature to sit up and take notice when something is being offered very cheap or free. Buy one get one free is always a good advertising ploy, so are sales that have strict time limits. However, the sale really needs to involve some deep discounts to spur people into action.




Promote a Quality Product

While the general consensus seems to be that people remember the commercial first and the product second, unless you are promoting a quality product or service, you can do all the advertising in the world and it won’t help you move a product of poor quality, or help solidify your brand. Always deliver value and quality to consumers.


Make the Ad Entertaining

This could be accomplished through humour, great acting, a catchy song or music, or just creating a commercial that has an intriguing storyline. We all like to be entertained and we are more likely to watch a TV commercial that entertains us rather than one that puts us into a coma.


Have a Catchy Jingle

To be honest most catchy jingles used in TV ads are kind of annoying, but that’s the point. It’s because they sound cheesy and silly that we tend to remember them and instantly associate that jingle with a certain product or brand. Jingles have always successfully helped sell products, whether they’re great songs or absolute crap. So long as they have a catchy melody, lyrics or music they will serve their purpose.


Keep It Simple and To the Point

With TV commercials you only have a timeslot of between 30 seconds to 1 minute to create a good impression. The ad needs to be sharp, concise and get the point across clearly in a very short timeframe. Too much fluff and you’ll run out of time to engage the audience or tell them anything you want them to hear. The message to be conveyed really needs to be planned down to minute details to make the absolute most of the very short space of time you have.




Use Relevant Music

Everything is made more entertaining, memorable and engaging with the inclusion of relevant music. Of course the music has to suit the tone and mood of the brand, the acting, what message is being delivered and so on, but you can’t really go wrong by including either background or foreground music in your commercials. I’m not talking jingles here, but instrumentals that really evoke emotion relevant to the ad, are attention grabbing and help to drive home the key points.

Some music just helps to fill up the background, while other music for TV commercials is more at the forefront and demands attention.

One of the very best ways to source music for TV commercials is through sync licensing websites. I create music for advertising and other projects, and if you like you can check out my growing catalogue of music over on Songtradr.