I remember when I first became the Creative Services Director at a five-station cluster. It was kinda like when you miss the meeting and they make you president of the committee. Back then, I had no idea how to write a commercial.
I had read and produced tons of them, but had never written any of them. The first time I wrote a :30 commercial I remember typing (yes, actually typing on a typewriter) the opening sentence and looking at all the white space that represented the other :28 of the commercial! I had no idea what to say!!
Then, some hot shot radio sales guy comes in, hands me a production order for a :60! I thought I would be there all day!!
Now it’s just the opposite! I can’t stand :30s and there’s never enough time in a :60 – I wish the industry would adopt a :90 or 2-minute format!! But it’s going to be a loooong time before that happens.
So, how much can you put into a :30 or a :60?
Today’s answer is purely technical. The importance isn’t how much you put in your commercial, the important is what you put in your commercial. But that’s a discussion for another blog entry.
A normal speaking pace for a straight-read commercial will require about 85-95 words for a :30, and 170-190 for a :60. That’s the short answer.
- Is there any dialog in the spot? You’ll want to write less.
- Is this a high-energy hype (i.e. car dealership) spot? You can write more.
- Is this a sincere, touching, heart-felt (i.e. funeral home) spot? You’ll want to write less.
- If you write the perfect script, and the client wants to add something…remember, something has to be cut out to make room.
- Numbers are words – spell them out. “528 Main Street” becomes “Five twenty eight Main Street”
And the best tip/trick of all…most word processors have a word count function. Check the “Help” section of your word processor to see how to use it – most likely it is only a couple clicks.