How to write Commercial Scripts

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Your assignment is to write a thirty second television commercial script. Your client is Mississippi
State University-Meridian. Broad messages don’t work. You’ll need to identify one central point (cost,
class size, travel distance, university prestige, career advancement, etc.) you’re selling to your viewers
and stick to it.
Television scripts are often formatted as two column scripts. The column on the left is audio (what the
viewer is hearing), the column on the right is video (what the viewer is seeing). Format your script in
this style.
Make proper use of tag lines, repetition. Pay attention to length. Thirty seconds means thirty seconds.
Also, don’t forget to include a ‘call to action’ in your script.

Commercial advertising is primarily designed to sell a product. Television commercials are not
like other media. A reader browsing a website has plenty of time to absorb information and can reread
copy that is interesting or informative. TV commercials happen in real time. Most local spots run thirty
seconds. That’s all the time you have to tell the viewer what they need to know.

It’s also important to remember that small businesses running local ads don’t have big budgets.
They can’t afford to waste time on clever visuals or dialog. They must introduce their business quickly
and give viewers a reason to go to the store.

Tips for commercial script writing:

– Determine what you are trying to sell. If you can’t be clear, your commercial won’t be. In 30
seconds you have time to make a single point that is understood immediately. Brainstorm about your
product. List its features. Turn these features into benefits for the consumer. Now, put your finger on
the strongest single benefit that distinguishes your product, its unique selling proposition. That is your
central message. Example: Burger King’s “Have it Your Way”.

– Repetition works! Productive advertising uses repetition in order to solidify the product’s
central message in the minds of viewers. Three is the magic number. Repeating the central message at
least three times is highly effective with viewer recall.

– You have to reach your audience through two senses, sight and sound. A commercial has to be
visually and audibly engaging. The visual choices have to flow out of the message you are selling.

– Make it entertaining with an easy to remember tag line. Humor can add a lot to a spot, but it
has to flow out of the message.

– Keep it truthful. Don’t over promise. Maybe some of us buy the “lose weight while you sleep”
diet supplements, but you can’t expect any repeat business if your product or service doesn’t deliver as

– Include a call to action. Be clear about what you want your viewers to do: pick up the phone,
visit your website, buy your book or DVD.

– Don’t waste time on street addresses and phone numbers unless they’re memorable. Viewers
won’t remember a long string of random numbers, but they may remember ‘across from MSU-Meridian’
or 1-800-BURGERS

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