The Three Essential Ingredients for Successful TV Advertising

Stew Birbrower is interviewed by George Alger on the the basics of advertising and successful TV commercials. This brief excerpt from the interview highlights some of the most fundamental points, including:

1) Catch their eye
2) Penetrate their mind
3) Warm their heart

He also notes that music is a big part of the effectiveness of television commercials.

Stew is a former Madison Avenue Creative Director. From the 1960’s and into the 1990’s, Stew was behind some of the most notable TV commercials of that era.

Here is a partial list of clients that has Stew has worked with:

  • Avis
  • Band Aids
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Bristol-Myers
  • Chrysler
  • Coca-Cola
  • Colgate Palmolive
  • Delta Airlines
  • Ford
  • General Foods
  • Goodyear Tires
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • New York State Lottery
  • Proctor & Gamble

How Much Does a TV Commercial Cost?

TV advertising costs can be surprising. Few things have such a cost variance as television ads. For most people, what’s not surprising is how expensive they can be. The main surprise is how inexpensive TV advertising can be. (Having said that, the least expensive options may not be the best opportunities, either).

Overall, the cost of producing a commercial can run from as little as $1,000 and upwards to hundreds of thousands of dollars. A more practical average could be from $3000 to $25,000.

Following are some fundamentals about TV advertising costs.

The Two Main Costs of TV Commercials

1) A TV commercial needs to be produced.
2) The TV ad needs to be broadcast.

If you have a fixed budget, you can spend less on the production and more on getting the message out on the airwaves. Conversely, you could spend a bigger chunk of the budget on the production of the commercial and spend less on the broadcasting. For most advertisers, the budget is dependent upon an evaluation of short and long-term business objectives.

Broadcasting costs can be as cheap as $25 for 30 seconds in a small market, or thousands of dollars in large markets.

National or Local TV?

National TV advertising is more expensive. Although some of the biggest brands may spend millions of dollars for a 30 second spot on the Superbowl, a more realistic number would be in the six figure range for 30 seconds on national TV.

Conversely, local TV can be surprisingly economical. If you are a local or regional company and you aren’t selling a product or service to a national market, then the decision is simple: buy local TV advertising.

A local commercial on a local station at 2:00 am can run as cheap at $25 per 30 seconds. However, 2:00 in the morning may not be the best time to advertise your product or service, although it can be inexpensive.

TV Cost Variables

There are a number of factors that determine the cost of broadcasting a TV ad. Such variables include the region it will be aired (some areas are more expensive than others); time of day; day of week; quantity of viewers; length of the commercial (15 sec, 30 sec, 60 sec or a 30 min infomercial); and how frequently the ads will run.

More fundamentally, the cost of broadcasting a 30-second spot varies according to the number of viewers expected to be watching it.

To throw out some ballpark numbers on the low side, which would pertain to many small- to mid-sized businesses, a 30-second time slot in a medium-sized market can be purchased for as little as $5 per 1,000 viewers.

Beyond the Money

Of course the costs of producing and airing a TV commercial are important to any business. However, the TV ad itself would be best if it contains The Three Essential Ingredients for Successful TV Advertising.

And bear in mind that a quantity of airings is vital to measuring effectiveness. If you run a commercial just once, it’s very unlikely you’ll see any increase in sales. Repetitive broadcasting generates the viewership familiarity that will make your message memorable.

Video and TV Interview Tips

Getting interviewed as a guest on a TV talk show or a video program is easy, isn’t it?

You might think it’s the interviewer who has the tough job. The person asking the questions is the one that is supposed to be in charge and keep things moving along, ideally in an interesting fashion.

Well, there are a few things to know about being interviewed that can make you look better on camera. In fact, failure to abide by some of these points can make you come across poorly. (I’ve produced some programs that we ended up not broadcasting, simply because the guest violated one or more of these points and we didn’t want to publicly present the guest in an unbecoming manner).

8 Tips For a TV Interview Guest

1) The main point is being relaxed enough to come across naturally. That’s sure easy to say, but for some folks that’s their main hurdle. A good interviewer can help the guest be comfortable, but even so, some folks freeze when the cameras goes on. If that is a potential problem for you, one thing to do is put all your attention on the interviewer and focus on the conversation, which should help you ignore the cameras. If you are able to take a short walk before the interview, that can be beneficial. (However, be sure to coordinate with the Director or Floor Manager, as you may be asked “not” to go away if it’s too close to starting time.)

2) Knowing the material that you are going to be interviewed about is another way to support coming across naturally. However, even if you have a list of “talking points” from the interviewer beforehand, don’t try to memorize what you will say, which can make you appear stiff and unnatural. Just answer the questions as you would in a regular (off camera) conversation.

3) Related to the first point, even if you aren’t afraid of cameras, lights and TV studios, generally speaking, you still don’t want to look into the cameras when they are rolling. Simply look at the interviewer (and not the cameras) in the same manner that you would anyone else you were having a conversation with. Note: There are certain instances when a person will intentionally look into the camera. For example, the host of the show “may” look into the camera to speak directly to the audience at the opening and the closing of the program, but that generally does not apply to a person being interviewed. Even if that were desired for some reason, you would be specifically requested to do so. However, that would be rare.

4) The interviewer may have some notes to refer to during the discussion, but you won’t. Unless you are specifically required to cite some reference as part of your interview, don’t bring notes onto the set. The information you are imparting as part of a conversational interview should come from your head, not prepared notes. In fact, bringing anything on the set can be distracting to the audience. For that reason, even if you are the author of a book, which is the subject of the interview, in many cases it will be the person who is asking the questions who will physically handle the book itself.

5) Short answers are best. Even though you may have a lot to say in response to a given question, you don’t want to speak more than a few sentences at a time. This keeps the dialog going back and forth, which makes for a more interesting program for the viewers. Also, unless you are confident that your program is being produced for a specialized audience, you will connect better with more viewers by avoiding technical jargon, as well as avoiding terms specific to your industry. Use simple language that will be understood by a broad audience.

6) If the video interview is being conducted in your home or office, instead of a TV studio, you’ll want to use chairs that do not swivel. Interviewees, in particular, tend to move when they are uncomfortable and this is noticeable on TV.

7) Another point about interviews in a home or office is that it’s best to use a room that has as little outside light as possible. Unless the Director specifically prefers to have natural light in the background, it’s trickier to balance the brightness of inside lights with outside light. Furthermore, outside light (daylight) has a blueish cast compared to most lights used inside, which would also require added effort to balance for the camera and lighting crew.

8) Get plenty of sleep the night before, so that you are well rested. Also, have a good meal beforehand so that you are well fed (but don’t eat so much that you become groggy). You may also want to have water readily available so you can start the interview without being thirsty.

BONUS TIP! If you are able to interject some appropriate humor at an apt point or two in the interview, that will help make the conversation more enjoyable for the viewing audience. However, unless you are a comic, or are doing a comedy show, there is no need to go overboard on the humor.

For most interviews, the idea is to keep things light. This can help, at times, even if the discussion is about a serious matter. (However, “appropriate humor” is the operative term here as well as good judgment).

By the way, if you are interested in how to dress, you may want to check out this article on What Clothes To Wear For A TV Interview.

It’s worth re-stating that the main idea here is to present yourself on camera at ease and naturally, which contributes to the ease and enjoyment of the viewing audience.

Clothes To Wear For A TV Interview

Even if you’re the kind of person who pays little attention to what you wear on a day-to-day basis, it’s useful to know a few things about the nature of clothing as it relates to TV and video.

Bear the obvious in mind: cameras, computer monitors and TV screens are not people, they’re machines. And as such, they don’t discern fine visual differences like the human eye.

In the same way that photographers with still cameras can not capture the full dynamic range of a scene, as compared to our eyes, and therefore shoot to accentuate the range that will be viewable on the final media (photo print, magazine, computer screen, etc), TV and video production have similar limitations.

Here Are The Suggestions I Present to TV Interview Guests

1) First of all, wear clothes that are comfortable.

2) Avoid apparel that is very light (such as white) or very dark (such as black). Even a dark navy blue jacket can blend into a dark background, in the same way that a very light beige could blend into a light background. Also, if white is worn against a dark background, the range of contrast could result in the white being burned out, in other words, having no details at all. Conversely, if black is worn against a white, or very light background, the black clothing could be completely devoid of detail.

3) Additionally, avoid bright colors, such a red or orange, which tend to draw attention away from the subject’s face.

4) Generally speaking, solid colors work best. Avoid checked patterns, plaids, extreme stripes or dramatic herringbone patterns – they have a tendency to moiré on screen (which means appear to vibrate).

5) It’s useful to wear a buttoned shirt or blouse, which makes it easier to attach a lapel microphone.

6) Beware of jewelry that can make noise. The slight rattling or jangling noise that you may not be normally aware of, can be magnified by the microphone during an interview. Be particularly cautious of a necklace that might touch a lapel microphone, and especially avoid bracelets, which can create distracting noises for a person who gestures with their hands. In general, minimize jewelry for TV and video interviews.

7) Eye glasses can reflect distracting lights, but if you normally wear glasses, and that’s how people know you, you should wear them. However, a glare-free type or frames with no lenses would be ideal.

8) In many instances, it would be best to bring an alternative selection of clothing to help the Director present you in the best possible light.

For information on how to best present yourself as an interview guest on TV, check out this article: Video and TV Interview Tips.