January 4, 2024

Everything you need to know about making a TV commercial in 2024

Rupert Mason

I know, I know, it's a profound title, but that's exactly what this article is about. If your work in the marketing department for an SME, especially those that are considering the leap to TV advertising then this is worth a read. Despite the fact that it's 2024 - the roaring decade of social media and on-demand content, television commercials remain a powerful tool for reaching a broad audience and making a lasting impact. Above all, TV commercials provide that all-important credibility for brands to establish themselves on the scene as let’s face it, it’s not the cheapest channel if you're looking for bang-for-your-marketing-buck. Crafting a compelling and engaging TV commercial involves a series of strategic steps that combine creativity, storytelling, and technical expertise. 

At Sidekick Studios we look at it this way - with the right brief and the creative license, we want people to be talking about your ad in the pub. It's that simple. We want your ad to start a conversation. That should be your goal post - remark-ability. Second to that will be the hierarchy of information within that commercial so that your audience takes away the right information about your brand, product or service.

We’ve produced many TV commercials over the years and we know how important it is for brands, startups and young marketing teams to get a feel for what’s actually involved in the production and to understand where best to allocate the marketing budget. We've done all the hard work for you because we're nice like that.

In this guide, we'll break down the key steps involved in creating a successful TV commercial.

Define Your Objective and Target Audience

  • Clearly outline the goals of your commercial. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, drive sales, or launch a new product?
  • Identify your target audience. Understanding who you want to reach will guide decisions on tone, style, and messaging. Think of their persona and their habits.
  • DRTV (Direct Response), Brand focused or a mix of both? - Understanding the type of response that you want from your viewers is VERY important - Consider what stage your business is at and ask yourself whether a DRTV ad (similar to an Oxfam Charity Appeal asking for an immediate donation with a clear CTA) would perform better than a more brand messaging piece, which is designed to reaffirm the brand values (something like a Lloyds TSB commercial with a galloping horse that’s always by your side). This type of brand commercial doesn’t tell you anything specific but because Lloyds is a well-known high street bank, this message can create an affiliation that sets them aside and is part of a long-term brand strategy. Usually if you’re looking for an immediate influx of customers or users then a DRTV commercial that clearly defines your product/ services’s benefits might perform better, but seek advice.

Concept Development

  • Usually companies will either use their internal marketing team or hire an ad agency for the creative ideation and then a production company for the actual filming, but often there are hybrid agencies like ours ;)
  • Develop a unique and memorable concept that sets your commercial apart from competitors and one that aligns with your brand and resonates with your target audience. A tip here is to think of all the different ways you could angle your product in the form of verbs and adverbs i.e If you’re selling shampoo, you might commonly think of it as washing your hair BUT if it has lots of lovely ingredients that nourish your hair then perhaps it’s “shampoo that feeds your hair” - from that you can create a whole string of fun scenarios around feeding your hair, which refer back to a product truth/ benefit.
  • Consider the emotional connection you want to establish with viewers.


  • Craft a compelling script that tells a concise and engaging story. Often this will be done by the Marketing team or ad agency. The trick here is to really simplify the story, you don't need to add all the minor details, we’re not writing poetry, we’re summarising a sequence of events.
  • Ensure your script aligns with your brand's voice and effectively communicates your message within the time constraints of a typical commercial.


  • Create a visual representation of your script through a storyboard. This serves as a blueprint for the entire production process.
  • Plan camera angles, transitions, and key visual elements to enhance the storytelling. Often at this point you might reach out independently to Directors or give this task to the production company to add their own treatments - Usually it’s best to shop around.

Casting and Pre-production

  • Select talented actors or spokespersons who fit the tone and image of your brand.
  • Usage - This is something that can easily be overlooked, but it’s how artists make their money. Technically everything is up for negotiation depending on what stage the actors or talent are in their career, however aside from a day rate they will often require additional royalties for as long as the ad is being used, this is called ‘usage’ and you need to have a usage agreement ready and make sure that before shooting, you get the talent to sign release forms allowing you to use their image. If you leave this until after the shoot they could hold you at ransom, or more likely the talent’s agent will (but most people are fair humans).
  • Secure filming locations and obtain necessary permits. Your production team will also want to do a recce before filming to suss out the location and plan the shoot day. This will often be the Director and DOP.
  • Plan the logistics of the shoot, including equipment, crew, and scheduling. Having a good producer who’s a great people person but also technically experienced will be worth their weight in gold.


  • Your production company will then execute the plan laid out in the storyboard and shot selection, often done by the Director.
  • It’s important that the client and crew are looked after and fed, this means organising transport, parking, catering and making sure health and safety guidelines have been followed. In some cases you might need a medic on hand OR if you’re working with animals then a Vet will need to attest to the fact that they’ve been well handled.
  • Overtime can get costly so make sure that you’ve allowed for a cushion within you’re original estimate as anything can happen on shoot day.


  • This is where the real magic happens as you start to see all the weeks and months of hard work pay off. Your editing house/ production agency will piece together the footage ensuring the flow of the story is smooth and engaging.
  • At this point the editors will incorporate visual effects, graphics, and sound design to enhance the overall production.
  • Pay attention to pacing and timing to keep the audience's attention as well as colour grading - this is when your footage takes on a more professional/ cinematic feel (depending on what you’re going for).

Soundtrack and Voiceover

  • Choose a suitable soundtrack that complements the mood and message of the commercial.
  • Record a professional voiceover that reinforces the narrative and brand identity. Here’s a tip, often VO artists will have their own home recording studios which can be a little more affordable.

Review and Revisions

  • Seek feedback from stakeholders and make necessary revisions.
  • Ensure that the final product aligns with the initial goals and resonates with the target audience.


  • QC - In the UK all TV commercials need to be approved by Clearcast to make sure that the footage complies with advertising and technical standards. Prepare for some back and forth here. It’s also advised to send the storyboard to Clearcast so that they can flag anything early that they deem to be a potential issue.
  • Deployment to channels is usually managed by a media agency or partner. The final edits will be formatted by the production company to specific lengths and setup to an exact specification and what’s called a ‘Clock number’.
  • Your media agency will distribute the ad to the appropriate TV channels based on your marketing media plan along with time slots based on your target demographic.
  • Consider digital platforms for additional exposure.

By following these steps, marketers can create a TV commercial that not only grabs the audience's attention but also leaves a lasting impression, ultimately driving brand recognition and achieving marketing objectives… and more importantly gets you talked about in a pub!

For any advice on TV production feel free to contact us at Sidekick Studios.

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