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 intended.

– 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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