Do your commercials suffer from “TMI”?


Many of you know that we at SRH are big cinema nerds. We love movies. We help produce them. And we were lucky enough to create a trailer for the best movie theater in the world.

Today, our resident director and the “R” of SRH Kurt Ravenwood shares some thoughts about how to get the most from your productions.

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The power of video is undeniable. Even as the internet introduces more and more forms of new media, there’s something about the format of a 30 or 60 second broadcast commercial that works.

I’ve run into a lot of projects in my career where marketers — with good intentions, mind you — make one major mistake when embarking on an ambitious video project.

They use video to relay “information” about their product or brand.

Many of you reading this have been making TV commercials for years, but if you are new to the game, allow me to share a mantra:

Video is for emotion.
Video is for emotion.
Video is for emotion.

Unless you are producing a 5-minute-plus training video, industrial, or the most aptly named “infomercial,” use the medium to do what it does best: make people feel something in a short amount of time.

Websites, brochures, packaging, reviews – put your information here. All of your key messages, features & benefits, and accolades are better suited to these.

In video, the emotion is the message. Your goal should be for customers to:

  1. Know your brand & product exists to fill a need.
  2. Know how your brand & product will make them feel.

If you try to do more than that, you risk having ten pounds of something in a five pound bag.

I completely empathize with the urge to squeeze as much messaging as you can. Broadcast production is expensive, tens of thousands of dollars per shooting day in Wisconsin — and that’s before you take creative and post-production into consideration. Your entry point for a quality broadcast spot is in six figures, and it can escalate quickly from there depending on the concept (pro-tip: the less locations and talent, the more likely the budget will stay in check).

That said, the cost is far greater if you pack Too Much Information into your spot. Why? Because people will be confused. And then you’ve wasted all those dollars, but even worse — you’ve wasted potential customers’ time.

The customers will seek more information if the video does its job right, and people tend to take more significant actions when emotionally affected.

And whatever you do, don’t try to confuse people emotionally. That’s worse than confusing people logically.

If you’re doing it right, you’re choosing ONE emotion you want your audience to feel. It’s less limiting than you think, we can feel a very broad spectrum of emotions. Heck, psychologists have made entire wheels to sort it out.

I know you want your audience to feel “happy,” but try drilling down to a more specific emotion, like “anticipatory” or “intrigued.” Just like a brand position, picking an interesting “emotional position” for your spot can help you stand out.

So, next time you’re working with writers on a script, and you’re tempted to add more messaging, ask yourself: “Is this TMI?”