How to come up with those killer ideas for your creative marketing videos and commercials.
Sometimes the hardest part is coming up with the idea. Okay, actually, almost every single time you’re tasked to make a new marketing video or commercial, the biggest challenge is concepting – coming up with that one amazing idea that’s going to put your brand on the map. It seems easy – anyone can come up with an idea, right? Well, then go ahead and do it.
Okay, still reading? That probably means you haven’t come up with anything yet.
Concepting is like playing the guitar or anything else – looks easy enough but really, really difficult to do it masterfully.
Over the past ten-plus years, our team here at Picturelab has worked on dozens of creative videos and commercials. That means hundreds of concepts and sample scripts, and many pitch meetings where we presented both killer and not-so-killer ideas to our clients. We’ve had clients applaud us and we’ve had dead silence…. Luckily, we’ve enjoyed more of the former, but even with the bad ones, we’ve learned over the years. We know what works, what doesn’t, and how to get our juices flowing even when our creative pipes are plugged with gunk.
Of course, every creative has his/her own process, but below are some ideas that might help you get going. As applicable, we’ve included some of our sample work. In all the videos below, we came with up the concepts, pitched them, scripted and produced the final videos.
Content, content, content!
If you’re stuck, then absorb as much content as possible. Commercials, movies, sitcoms, SNL, whatever you feel is in the right genre (or not), soak it all in.
During this process, you’ll get inspired and you’ll get excited. Excitement is a good thing. Keeping your morale high is very important, because a ballplayer without confidence will throw up bricks.
Then start putting a few notes and lines on paper. Often it’ll suck, but doors to new creative avenues will open up.
When tasked to produce several funny social media videos, our team took in a heavy dose of SNL and came up with this series. Here’s one of them:
If humor is the mission, then one possibility is the spoof. But there a few things to keep in mind if this is the direction:
Spoofing is not copying. You’re taking work that already exists and putting your own spin to it. It needs to be very obvious you’re playing with it, and not just flat out plagiarizing it.
One request we often get is to do something like the “Mac vs PC” commercial. Our response to that is, if we’re doing that, we need to spoof it, and not just do another version of the concept with someone else’s brand.
Also, stay away from the usual suspects. For example, we occasionally get asked to spoof “The Office”. Our response to that is…naw, no way.
Spoofing seems easy and fun, but it needs to be very clear that’s what you’re doing and also avoid using something that everyone else has already spoofed to oblivion.
Here is an example of a spoof done well:
Okay, going for a run when you’re stuck does sometimes help, but I’m mainly talking about writing and creative exercises. These are things are creative writers do all the time. Like sketch up a character, draw up polar opposites, describe a newly discovered planet, etc, etc.
It works for marketing videos and commercials as well. Take a product and place it in a unique place. Think of a celebrity that fits perfectly with your client’s product and write a scenario.
Or have a serious discussion about a light subject.
That was the origin for an explainer video we created for a Silicon Valley cybersecurity firm. We had several stakeholders engaged in an online debate over puppies and kittens. Check it out:
In Hollywood ideas are cheap. But in marketing and advertising, the idea is everything. Often the production is the easy part.