We’ve all seen them. We’re at home watching TV when right after some beautiful and expensive Nike commercial, comes an ad for a local car dealer, furniture store, or personal injury attorney.
And it is bad.
Sometimes, these commercials can be so bad that they end up being good, although no one can be sure if that’s intentional or not.
So, how does this happen? I mean, advertising is advertising, right? Is it just the fault of bad production teams? Is it local businesses with no idea how to sell themselves? Is it the fault of the local affiliates who are often in charge of producing these monstrosities/gems?
The truth is, it generally isn’t the fault of anyone. Plenty of talented people work on the spots. Great video editors, excellent producers, and solid production teams spend time on ads like these every day. But generally, not a lot of time.
As the old adage goes, “Good, fast, cheap…..pick two.” These local business spots are almost always stuck in the fast and cheap categories, which means there isn’t a lot of room for good in the equation.
Network affiliates have to find ways to get these local businesses to advertise on their channels in the first place. The best way to do that is to offer them low budget production that won’t break the bank over at Jackie & Priscilla’s Recliner Emporium. (No offense intended to Jackie and Priscilla if this is a real business somewhere.)
In turn, the network affiliate isn’t making much money, so they need to churn out the ads quickly and dirty. Again, the teams behind them may be very talented, but with no time, it’s really hard to make anything look good.
Small production teams may take on these projects to help pay their own bills but they know they aren’t going to be able to produce anything special, so it just becomes something that has to get out the door…..and fast.
Sometimes, these local ad budgets are so small that they don’t even have money for local tv air time, and they go straight to YouTube. This isn’t always bad, as YouTube obviously has a lot of traffic, but if your ad is terrible, don’t expect people to be flocking to watch it or to use your services.
One thing for the small businesses to remember is that the quality of your ad represents the quality of your brand and your business. This is exactly why Nike spent millions on the commercial that ran before yours. Of course, no one expects Jackie and Priscilla to cough up millions or buy a spot in the Super Bowl rotation, but a little polish goes a long way.
And for the small production companies, producers, and editors working on these projects, it wouldn’t hurt to put out an ad every now and then that would be worth putting in your portfolio. Or even having something worth sharing with potential advertisers that is a cut above the rest.
There is no fail-safe recipe for a good ad. As mentioned above, sometimes the worst ad of all ends up being the best. But this isn’t easy to pull off, and it’s generally an accident anyway.
It still takes effort to make sure lighting and camera work are correct. It takes some coaxing to get Jackie and Priscilla to say their lines as if they weren’t sleepy robots. And it still takes good editing and graphics to tie the whole thing together (minus the sleepy robot takes).
But one thing that can help take some of these local commercials to a higher level is After Effects templates.
How so, you say?
Well, consider this. First off, sometimes the small production teams tasked with pulling off these commercials don’t have a dedicated designer on staff. The editor may be required to create custom graphics which can be time-consuming and may be out of her wheelhouse. The result may be something that feels like an afterthought.
Secondly, if time is dedicated to making graphics that look professional and well composed, that generally means that time has to be pulled from other aspects of the project like editing, or audio mixing. Not ideal either.
Meanwhile, a great After Effects template does half the work of graphics creation. An editor or designer with minimal knowledge of After Effects can easily go in and update text, change colors, and even tweak animations to match the commercial.
Template items can be used just as they are with minimal updates, or they can be tweaked for more customization and be used again and again. And with a catalog of AE templates at your disposal, there will be no shortage of new looks and professional design elements that can take some of the headaches out of the “good, fast, cheap” scenario.
There is no magic formula for making a good local business commercial on a tiny budget. And even the best editors, designers, and templates can’t save every spot. But when you are trying to make Jackie and Priscilla happy while maintaining your own sanity and getting home at a reasonable hour, every little thing helps.
Here are some After Effects templates that might be very useful for a local business commercial.
Unless you are working with The Bang Bang Lady & The Boom Boom Lady, or perhaps The Credit MacDaddy, do yourself a favor and take a look at some templates that could make your day a little shorter and your project a little more easy to watch.