Five Tips for Writing a TV Commercial Script

So, you have a commercial coming up and need to know how to write a TV commercial script for yourself, your actors, or you voiceover talent.

Here are five tips to help you write your next TV commercial script.

1. Write Down What Your Main Objective Is

Be clear and to the point so that your objective doesn’t get lost in words. Do you want to sell a car? Get people to buy a product? What is the one action you want people to complete when they’re done watching your commercial, and how will you get them to perform it?

A couple of examples:

Bill’s Car Lot TV Commercial Objectives:

  • Show people the variety of new cars on the lot (don’t forget to provide your address)
  • Tell people about an urgent one-time promotional offer that gets them to come in (don’t forget to provide your address)
  • Get people to look at online inventory (don’t forget to provide your web address)

Bill’s Restaurant TV Commercial Objectives:

  • Get people in to try your new menu (don’t forget to include shots of the food)
  • Make people feel comfortable dining in with their children (don’t forget shots of families)
  • Get people to RSVP for your Halloween Bash (don’t forget to provide a phone number or web address)

Decide what your goals are before you start, and your script will come more easily (as will your shot list).

2. Time Out Your Scripts

Most TV commercials are 30 seconds in length – make sure that you keep your script short, sweet, and to the point.

Run through the script yourself, first – the stopwatch function on your iPhone works great. The trick is to read it at your own pace – don’t try to sound like a professional voiceover artist. I like my scripts to read in the 25-29 second range. This gives your voice talent plenty of room to emphasize words if they need to.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Repeat Yourself

Repetition helps people remember, so whatever it is you want people to do (call, visit, make a reservation), make sure to repeat your call-to-action at least twice. If you’re writing a script for a brick and mortar store, make sure you mention the address a couple times throughout your script; the same goes for a website address. You want to hammer it into peoples’ heads, but be polite about it!

4. Get Your Scripts Approved

Get your client to sign off on any scripts before production begins. This can save you time and money in re-recording, especially if your voice talent works on an hourly rate.

5. Format a Script for Your Voice Talent

Voiceover artists need scripts to be easily read, and so there are styles of script-writing used on the radio and TV that makes printed words easier to read and illustrate verbally.

Brent Brace, a voiceover artist in Denver, told me his personal opinion (although there are many): “Most voiceover artists, including myself, prefer scripts written as upper lower case. It allows us to see the shapes of the words so that seeing it and saying the entire phrase is easier. When we worked in radio, we capitalized every word because we were not typists and it was easy to hit CAPS and go fast, but in the L.A. and N.Y major voiceover world, major ad agencies write a script like a movie script … upper lower case.”

Here’s a quick rundown on formatting your script for voice talent:

  • Write out numbers * example: 3 becomes three
  • Capitalize every word * THIS IS A PREFERENCE
  • OR, Capitalize the first letter of every word * This Is A Preference
  • Break lines where they seem most natural * create pauses where you want pauses

Do you like to format your  tv commercial scripts a particular way? Let us know in the comments.

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