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Triple B’s of Writing TV Ad (Bad, Boring, Brilliant)

The bad, the boring, and the brilliant of TV ads.

Your business will inevitably use advertising, whether through online channels, a TV ad, or radio. You should be smart and critical in choosing which ad writer to work with. 

Any advertiser should know the ropes on creating ads for all existing platforms, especially with TV ads. Ad writers come in all shapes and sizes. Some specialize in online, while others are proficient in radio or TV ads.

Did you know that TV ads are more successful than any other media source? According to Robert H. Smith, adults watch TV between 13 to 23 times longer than PC and mobile, respectively. There’s a reason why big companies still do TV advertising.

The question is: How are TV commercials different from good ads on the radio? More importantly, how do you write killer TV ads? Let’s dig into that here.

How Do You Write A TV Ad?

The answer to that is simple. TV ads are like any other commercial, except they’re produced for television. The key to writing an excellent TV ad is understanding your target audience and what they want to see. 

It’s typically different from one industry to another, but you’ll see a pattern in what works for each category. For example, in residential home services, a comedic, funny, and entertaining TV ad usually does the trick.

Why?

Because when you’re selling an externally triggered grudge purchase, a laugh is the only way to appease a raging crowd. You’re back in good graces with a long, hearty laugh. Or a chuckle, we can work with that. 

The point is that your TV ads should be disruptive to help you land in your audience’s procedural memory. Unless your ad writer is a comedic prodigy, your TV ad will strike out in the first few seconds. It’ll be one of those commercials where families fiddle with their phones while it’s on. 

That’s what we’re trying to save you from. Wizard of Ads™ can make your customers lose their breath in a comedic trance if you want a killer TV ad. Book a call.

However, there’s more to television commercials than just that. The writing, effects, transitions, colors, etc., converge into a cohesive piece. As I revisited Roy’s old Memos, I learned an interesting story about his TV ads and radio script journey. That is: Go against the tide

I’ll share a few lines regarding each below.

Split-page Approach to Writing TV AdsSplit-page Approach to Writing TV Ads

During the height of the television commercial craze, almost everyone had one format for every TV ad. That’s a split-page presentation. Left pane for the camera instructions. Right pane for the demo.

There’s nothing wrong with a TV ad of the same format. In fact, everyone did it. Roy refused to conform to the culture.

Radio Scripts in Capital Letters

As for the radio scripts, when radio people wanted the lines in CAPSLOCK, Roy went against the tide. When the fast-paced, online era began, and everyone embraced lowercase text, he went full uppercase on them. Nobody had time to press shift, they said, but Roy did. 

Now, some might read this and interpret it as stubbornness, but that’s not really the case. To write awesome ads, you need to embrace change and uniqueness. That extends past the TV ad or radio script you’re writing — you embody it.

Let’s face it. Bad writing results in a bad TV ad or radio script, no matter what you do. When you do things like everyone else, your TV ad becomes boring. The only way for TV commercials to stand 600 ft. above the competition is to go against the tide. 

In other words, a brilliant TV ad is a product of excellent writing, perfect execution, and a one-of-a-kind presentation.

Tools of Radio and TV WritersTools of Radio and TV Writers

You’ll find onboarding a radio ad specialist likely if you’re planning to craft the perfect TV ad for your business. However, you should know that a TV ad is not a radio ad on TV. The two are vastly different beasts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

A TV commercial has to take into account the following:

  • The number of channels and the vast amount of content available today.
  • People’s shorter attention spans.
  • The fact that people can change the channel or fast-forward through commercials.
  • The need to be visually appealing.

These are extra details that radio ad writers may not consider when formulating an ad for the screens. With that in mind, here are three things radio turned TV ad writers should keep in mind:

  1. Bad TV Ads Are… Well, Bad. That seems like a no-brainer. However, you’d be surprised how many TV ads are poorly written, executed, and/or produced.
  2. Boring TV Ads Are… Just That, Boring. A lot of TV ads are simply dull and uninteresting. Some of them pack really great offers too. Sadly, they don’t grab viewers’ attention and pique their interest long enough to make them want to watch.
  3. Brilliant TV Ads Are… Well, Brilliant. They’re well-written, well-produced, and grab the viewer’s attention. They’re also engaging and entertaining and make you invested. 

Now then, why do successful radio scriptwriters often miserably fail when creating TV commercials? More importantly, how can you ensure your TV ads are one of the latter? 

The secret lies in knowing, mastering, and wielding the tools available to you. For radio script writers, you have five tools in your toolbox:

  • Choice of words implemented.
  • Vocal intonation.
  • Vocal inflection.
  • Background music.
  • Special sound effects.

For TV ads specialists, you get the same sets of tools as radio ads but get additional more like:

  • Visual appeal (This includes the characters, their facial expressions, gestures, and body language).
  • Screen text.
  • Special visual effects.

The problem with hiring radio ads gurus to write your TV advertisement is this. They don’t utilize the full suite of tools available to them. It often leads to TV ads that appear amateurish or, worse, unintentionally funny.

That’s not something you can afford or risk for your business.

Predictable Mistakes Made by Radio People Writing TV Ads

Roy H. Williams shared some of the most predictable mistakes that radio writers turned TV ads creators commit. According to him, there are four common errors:

  1. They cram 30 seconds’ worth of words into a 30-second clip. They overlook the fact that visual appeal adds more layers of information than words ever could. That is one of the most common mistakes, and it’s easy to understand why.
  2. They describe things they could easily have shown onscreen. We’ve all seen TV ads where the voiceover is describing what’s happening onscreen. That is a colossal mistake, possibly done by radio ad writers. The whole point of TV advertising is to show, not tell. If your clip isn’t telling enough, it will not be successful.
  3. They forget screen text is available. Radio ads require words uttered at 1.25 times the speed to cover the entire script. That’s not the case for TV. Screen texts reinforce the visual appeal already displayed in the TV commercial. 
  4. They use an omniscient narrator. Radios are known for using an omniscient voice-over in every ad they publish. That’s because it falls on listeners to imagine a commercial’s plot, setting, and narrative. 

However, this strategy doesn’t work in TV advertising because viewers don’t interpret information. They just accept it. TV ads use tools like visual appeal, effects, and screen text to spoon-feed things customers need to know.

However, there’s a caveat to all of this. You cannot mask bad writing whether or not you produce radio ads or TV commercials. Bad writing will always yield bad ads, no matter what tools you make available.

How to Turn A Great Radio Ad into A Brilliant TV Ad_

How to Turn A Great Radio Ad into A Brilliant TV Ad?

Naturally, transforming a bad or boring TV ad into a brilliant one requires the inverse of all errors indicated. Correct the most predictable errors, and you eliminate the blockades from making your TV ad brilliant. Here are the ways:

  1. Maximize visual appeal. That means omitting all unnecessary words if your actors or video could convey the information. There’s no need to create a description for every action. If needed, you could send clips of yourself performing the role so your director can deliver your vision.
  2. Show viewers who are talking. Don’t describe the things you could easily show on the screen. Facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language are all instrumental ingredients in inciting emotions from viewers. Not only does this make TV ads more straightforward, but it also saves time. 
  3. Utilize screen texts. There’s no need to reiterate every necessary detail in your ad, like your contact information. That’s what screen texts are for.
  4. Use special visual and sound effects when necessary. Overuse of special effects can make your TV ads look amateurish. The key is inserting them sparingly and only when necessary if it will make your ads more memorable.

Your TV ads can work well when you establish these things, even when you’re working with a radio specialist. It begins with maximizing the tools made available to you.

However, there’s a caveat to all of this. You cannot mask bad writing whether or not you produce radio ads or TV commercials. Bad writing will always yield bad ads, no matter what tools you make available.

Bad, Boring, Brilliant TV Ad

Producing brilliant TV ads comes has always boiled down to good writing. The best TV ads come down to three things – bad, boring, and brilliant. Understanding what not to do and what works well effectively increases the value of your TV commercials. That will better equip you and your business to get your message across.

Just remember that radio ad specialists aren’t miracle workers. If they have bad writing, no amount of creative direction will save your TV commercials. With that in mind, ensure your TV ad scripts are on point before anything else.

If you want a no-headache, conversion-driven TV ad, Wizard of Ads™ can make that for you. All you have to do is book a call and let’s talk about how we’ll get your name out.

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