TV Commercials: Make Em’ Stick…Not Suck

Sucky commercials make you want to gouge your eyes out.

As a viewer, nothing makes me more snarky than seeing an abominable spot. You know the litany: “Is this a joke?” “A five-year old could do it better.” “Why didn’t they just throw a cat in there?”

Don’t make crappy commercials. Make awesome commercials. Remember the fundamentals.

A good ad has to be 3 things:

1.) Memorable

I’m up to my eyebrows in commercials every day. Traditional, “feature-centric” ads are boring. Ads that get watched, remembered, and shared don’t just advertise their product. They create its soul.

Take this recent ad from Old Spice. Not just ridiculous. It strides up and shakes your metaphorical hand ferociously.

This is more than a product. It’s a brand, and it’s a likable, funny, friendly one. You remember it.

2.) Emotionally Relevant

I don’t like advertising when it’s jammed down my throat. I want to like the story being told–have it somehow relevant to me.

Advertisers have known this for years (compare the commercials you see on Lifetime versus ESPN), but it’s an inexact science. Savvy admakers can toe the line.

I don’t need to wipe away tears (that often backfires–just ask Pedigree), but it should stir my emotions just enough.

Google’s recent spots hit home runs in this area. Not only is it a search engine for information, but it brings people together. And it’s one almost everybody can relate to. Awesomely done.

3.) Desirable

Your audience has to go out and get it, right? They’ve gotta want to get up off the sofa. Create that craving.

iPhone commercials are great examples of this. They show how much they are a facet of our lives. They don’t boast about its RAM, or camera power, or bright screen. They just show off life being better with one.


When making commercials, every part is important: lighting, sound, frame rate, talent. But if your idea is bad, all the talent in the world can’t sell it. Respect the fundamentals.

Now go make some ads!


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