When It Comes to Media, It’s Time To Get Real

Just when we hoped “reality” programming was reaching it’s end, we discovered that the audience ratings are higher than ever. Now, reality advertising is the next step as the trend in reality programming has trickled down into the commercials that surround the programs. Certainly, as a commercial director, I’ve seen a strong increase in clients wanting to portray real people instead of actors, less gloss and hype, and more “real life” situations in spots.  Here are some thoughts and ideas as you brainstorm your next advertising campaign:

Use more real people. Instead of setting up situations portrayed with actors, find real executives, flight attendants, book store owners, housewives, etc. Dump the pre-written scripts, and let real people tell the story in their own words.

Don’t worry about shooting and editing a perfect spot. A number of years ago, I produced and directed a series of segments for the nationwide TV broadcast of a national political convention. Major advertising agencies were involved since it was a presidential election, so I did my best to shoot and edit a series of flawless segments. But during the screening, the Creative Director of the largest ad agency said: “The segments are too good. If people feel they’re too slick, they won’t believe us. Take them back to the editing room and make them a little rough around the edges.” I have to admit that was the first time a client told me my project was “too good.” So I made a few of the edits less then perfect, de-focused a few shots, shook the camera a little, and sure enough, the agency loved them, and they were very well received during the national broadcast. I learned an important lesson: It’s important that the audience feels like you’re being honest, and not pulling something over on them.

Study the culture, and learn what attracts an audience.  Jesus Christ was a master communicator who “understood the signs of the times.”  As present day communicators of His message, we should do no less.  Because when it comes to advertising, as Dorothy said, “we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

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