People always ask me what makes great commercials. For promotional spots great commercials must have great music to engage the viewer. If the content is stale or hard to get across to the consumer, great commercials usually have great music, it just helps. Now if you are looking to entertain and use humor, a great script makes great commercials. Let me walk you through one of my productions, a spot called “CAR”. So I was challenged to come up with a spot for the ad agency I was working at, make something engaging for their client, while making sure the point of the product gets across. It was a credit score company, so getting a credit score, and why you would need their service was the main point to get across. Great commercials need great scripts and after tooling around with an idea I had, I started writing. The script had to be witty, but also required some amazing visuals.
I thought it would be fun to poke fun at how little you could get if you had a low credit score, specifically when car shopping. I wrote the script showing a couple behind a real nasty and old car, they inform the announcer they use the service and have great credit, and Bam! They get a better newer car. But I really also wanted to make it a bit over the top, and once my script was approved, the hard work began. Now where to find a car?
The agency had a great working relationship with a local studio, and we had a crew, so that wasn’t a problem. The props, mainly a car to use for the spot, which meant I would be cruising the junkyards looking for that special one. And as luck would have it I found it in Jacksonville about a mile from the studio. Here are the raw photos when I scored my junkyard prize.
Isn’t that awesome? What you cannot see, or smell rather is the nasty stench from this once fine automobile. I haggled with the dealer, yes there had to be haggling, which was strange since I really don’t think old Luminas are in huge demand at Barret Jackson auctions these days. However they had to do their part to which consisted of two very important things. First they had to tow it to our studio and pick it up after we were done. But even more urgently they had to inform the homeless guy that was living in the car, he would have to find another home for about 3 nights. See that old van behind this car? That was like the Ritz to the poor guy, and you know what I don’t think he moved back to the Lumina after we re done, he stayed in the van…good for him right? But great commercials need what they need. With that out of the way we set the production date and started on our journey. We hired two amazing local actors, a crew that is the best in Florida, and the shoot day quickly arrived.
Now for fun we even added ferile cats, well not really but we did manage to hire a cat wrangler, and yes when you live 2 hours from Orlando almost anything exists…like cat wranglers. So phrases like: “Do you need the cats to look more scruffy?” would be yelled out loud. It sounds crazy but apparently you can make cats look more scruffy, again great commercials.
With the cat situation squared away we started rolling and gathering our shots. Since this spot was script intensive, and the announcer did most of the talking, we could do that in post, which meant we didn’t have to be quiet on set. It made working together easier, and quicker.