Maas' checklist for killer TV commercials

NEWDELHI: Want some insights into what makes for killer television commercials? Jane Maas, chairman emeritus, of the US-based Earle Palmer Brown Advertising & Public Relations gives her list.

Maas is credited as being the one who masterminded the I Love New York ad campaign that had such a successful run. The list has been culled from a presentation Maas made at last week's CTAM Summit in Boston during the "Dirty Details of Creating Advertising Campaigns" master course.

Here's Maas' checklist for great television commercials:

Let the pictures tell the story. Maas believes that the best ads can be understood with the sound turned down, and that storyboards that are employed for mock-ups are best viewed without the accompanying text.

Be single-minded.

A good commercial is uncomplicated. Direct. It never makes the viewer do a lot of mental work. Namely because time is limited and expensive for TV commercials. For instance, in the UK, the duration of the slot is 15 seconds; in India it is 10 seconds. Within that time frame not much communication can be pumped into the message; probably one can state only the product's name and perhaps a single product benefit to the prospective consumer.

Have one or two key visuals that can sum up the entire ad.

Is the core idea the most important/most memorable element in the spot?

Make sure the commercial is intrusive, but don't include extraneous elements to simply get the viewers attention.

Ensure that the television commercial is memorable. "Don't leave home without it" is a tagline that American Express hasn't used in its advertising in years, Maas says. Nonetheless, it's still remembered as the brand's signature.

Take care that the V/O is good enough and that the brand name is registering and not being blurted or muttered.

Your brand should be able to own the advertising. For instance, there is a restaurant in Mumbai called Under the Over because of its location below the Kemps Corner Flyover. In this manner you pre-empting the value of the choice location.

Is the brand name registering, not just being muttered?

The list that Maas presented is a modification of "10 Ways to Get a More Effective Commercial" from the book she co-authored with Kenneth Roman - How to Advertise.

The following is the list as given in the book

1. The picture must tell a story;

2. Look for a key visual;

3. Grab the viewer's attention;

4. Be single-minded;

5. Register the name of your product;

6. Show people not objects;

7. Have a payoff;

8. The tone of your advertising must reflect your product personality;

9. Avoid talky commercials;

10. Build campaigns, not individual commercials.

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