What Makes a TV Commercial Memorable?

Gene Sugano

Gene Sugano About The Author

May 10, 2021 at 1:00 PM


Hey there, I’m Special Agent Gene Sugano from Area 5 Commercial Production. Hopefully, you’ve had some time to watch my Secrets To Successful TV Commercials. If not, I forgive you. Either way, you’ve gotten to the point where it’s time to create your television ad. You’ve met with our Gray Las Vegas sales team and figured out the necessary things to include in your spot, but now you need to make it memorable.

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What Makes a TV Commercial Memorable? Let's Find Out!

Now, here are some numbers that were given to me. “53% of 18-34 year-olds, 54% of 35-49 year-olds, and 44% of adults 50+ say that TV ads are an effective brand communication tactic. LinkedIn reports people retain 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they read, so having a commercial is a critical element in your marketing strategy.”

With numbers like that, this should be a tv commercial instead of a blog, right?

I can tell you, I’ve been making tv commercials for nearly 30 years, so let’s highlight what will make your brand most memorable.


Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 10.14.16 AMThis should be the most obvious part of creating your ad. Viewers are already distracted by a household full of family members, texting with friends in one hand, while surfing the web on the other...we need to keep them glued to the tv before they have a chance to look away and be lost forever.

The first few seconds are critical. Personally, I find using comedy as a great tool, but it might not fit your branding. Creating a sense of fear or urgency is another way to perk up a viewer’s ears. Of course, if you’re in the food business, a shot of something mouth-watering and irresistibly delicious might be all it takes.

It all comes down to what you should have already figured out as your branding goal. Once you’ve committed to a particular tactic, then stick with it and give it time to register with viewers once it hits the air.

Less Is Better

Don’t try to cram too much information into a 30-second ad. It’s impossible to fit everything you want to say about your business, so keep it to a minimum. Think about it, the average phone number is about the most a person can remember quickly after hearing it once for the first time. Too much information in your commercial will only confuse your viewers, making them tune out, or forgetting your business completely.

Having that meeting with your sales representative and the creative producer (someone like me) will help you narrow your focus and keep your message clear. Remember the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? Sometimes letting the images tell your story is more than words can speak.


Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 10.14.21 AMYou might have a bunch of awards and accolades, but when you say it about yourself, it comes across as a bit narcissistic and self-serving. When someone else says wonderful things about you, viewers will tend to believe that third party, even if it’s a paid spokesperson. It translates as more genuine and reputable.

But remember, you need to hold that high standard with your new customers that have come in as a result of your commercial because if they don’t have the same great experience that your testimonials stated, they will quickly figure it out and bad word of mouth will travel quickly. Recovering from bad publicity is a deep hole to dig out of.

Catch That Phrase or Jingle

I know you’ve already recalled a jingle in your mind as you’re reading this! A catchphrase or slogan is something simple to remember and recite. Just like a phone number, that phrase or slogan should be as short as possible. Jingles can be a musical version of a catchphrase, your name, or your phone number.

Not all jingles need to include words being sung, some are simple music cues. Remember the three musical tones for Intel Inside?

Whether it’s a catchphrase or a jingle, you need to keep it consistent, just like your company logo. The famous and iconic Nike Swoosh was always accompanied by the word “Nike” for decades before the Swoosh worked all by itself. Crazy to think that I’m actually older than that Swoosh.

Things To Avoid

You only have 30 seconds or less to get your message out. Don’t waste time with these fillers that don’t help your brand at all.

  • Starting your commercial with a “yes” or “no” question. It gives viewers a 50%chance of tuning out immediately.
  • “Family owned and operated.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that has ever made me choose that over a corporate entity
  • “For all your ______________ needs.” This is a general statement that pretty much anyone can say, even your competitors. So say something that sets you apart instead.
  • “Serving the community for more than ____________ years.” If your target audience is older, that might resonate with them, but if they’re not, then longevity means nothing
  • Maps. I challenge you to figure out a map in 5 seconds or less. I rest my case.

Screen Shot 2021-05-05 at 10.17.39 AMWhether you make the viewer laugh or cry, remembering your name is the priority. It will take a viewer several times to see your ad before it really sticks in his or her mind. Be patient. TV is the strongest form of advertising. It sets you apart from every business that doesn’t advertise on tv. In a viewer’s mind, it already gives you credibility that they will consider when they need your product or service.

I’ll leave you with this, it’s good for your ego when your friends say, “I saw you on tv”, but it’s better for your business when a customer calls or walks in and says the same thing.

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