I am a fan of Tanishq Advertisements. Especially the ones that they release around Diwali. It also gave me the idea that once I become a mom, maybe every Diwali I will invest in some gold jewellery for my baby.
Then there was another advertisement of a father getting the same haircut as his son, just to keep him company as his failed hair cut grew out.
There are also an ad where a cancer survivor is returning to work. The message is Bald is beautiful and brave. The ad shows her struggling through body image issues, which work itself out with the support of her community.
Each of these advertisements touch our hearts in very different ways. The former made you laugh. The latter sensitised you. All those ads entertained you.
I have often marvelled at the skill of commercial script writers. How deeply do you have to feel what you want to convey to be able to come up with something so killer? But there are times when as script writers we may not resonate with what’s being offered to the clients. Or we may not be in the right frame of mind ourselves to put it together. That’s when a script writing process helps.
These 5 steps to commercial script writing will definitely up your game.
1. Get the brief right. Your clients will often understand their own needs better after you’ve brainstormed with them, or after you’ve done the first table read with them. To minimise rework on the basics, get these right:
- What is the call to action for the advertisement? Is it going to be implicit or explicit?
- Who is most likely to view the ad and share it in their circles?
- Which pain point are you solving for the viewer?
- Is the content going to be useful/ inspirational/ contextual? [set the tone accordingly]
- Is there anything that should be absolutely not touched- religious beliefs/ sexual orientation/ political affinities and such?
With these in place the brief can get started. Ideally I suggest that you have a detailed questionnaire in mind that you fill out with the client.
2. Start crafting the story of what you want to portray. The best stories follow the Hero’s journey. There’s an adventure, a crisis, a crucial decisive point and then a victory.
Most of your audience will need to resonate with the “crisis” in the story.
That’s what draws audiences. In the ad showing a bald cancer survivor, I believe it is more for the friends and family of the survivor than for the survivors themselves. One might feel that having survived cancer, losing hair should be of no consequence. But your sense of self is very closely tied to how you look, and having survived cancer, while they have gained life, they have lost a part of something that made them who they were. They will get used to it eventually, but its importance can’t be stressed enough with family.
3. Keep it simple. The script should focus not only on the dialogues but the visuals too. I can often see the ad unfolding in my mind. I can visualise what angle the camera should take, which point necessitates a flashback, what kind of furniture we need on the screen and so forth. Every scene that you depict has to be detailed to that extent. When it comes to the language, use what the presenter will speak.
Written language, that’s to be read has the luxury of being complex. Spoken language needs to be understood first and marvelled at later.
4. Table read the script. As your script and dialogues are ready, make your team read out parts of it to you. It will help you get ideas from the lot of them and also tweak words, language and themes that might seem to be complex to a listener who’s initially unfamiliar with the topic.
Table reads are excellent ways to bringing the focus back to the theme and the message, rather than the script and the words.
5. Revise. At the end of the table read, after having incorporated any and all changes, it is time for a final check to understand if you have the call to action in place.
The CTA can’t be in place by chance. It has to be in by design. Also the journey of the presenter has to have that hook that makes you stay till the end.
We are all hardwired to skip Ads these days, and most likely because they don’t tell a story or they don’t capture your attention in the first 4 seconds. I know that’s a hellish timeframe, but that’s also what makes a script writers work so tremendously exciting.