When we talk about commercial “copy” we’re talking about commercials scripts that are eventually going to be recorded and aired on the radio, television, or the Internet. There are a number of things that you will need to do to in order to bring a piece of commercial copy to life.

David Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

Let’s use this commercial for Florida orange juice as an example.

Bounce back with orange juice.

It actually puts back what your workout takes out.

After you sit up, push up, stretch, and flex.

Relax with a cool glass of orange juice.

Florida quality orange juice.

It makes you feel so good!

Okay, so there are certain things that I always bring with me into the audition booth when I have commercial copy to work with. One of the most important and essential elements of a commercial read is a smile. 99% of the time when you’re reading commercial copy, you’re smiling. Why? Because it relaxes the listener, it relaxes you, and it puts you in a really good place to communicate this information. When you’re really smiling about something, it is much more likely to make the listener interested in what you’re talking (and smiling) about. It’s just part of human nature. So, if you have auditioned for a commercial and not smiled, you probably won’t get the job. Just sayin’.

Tell a story. Every human being loves a good story, so make sure you tell the story of this commercial in a way that the listener knows it will have a happy ending. Know the right words to emphasize along the way to illuminate your story. The story behind this commercial happens to be about how orange juice makes me feel after a workout. How it’s a great tasting reward for all the energy I put out, and how its nutrients help me regain what I have lost through this exertion.

The next thing you want to do is to bring a very conversational tone to the piece. You don’t want to sound like an announcer for a commercial like this one because that’s not a voice we trust much anymore. What we trust these days is a much more relaxed, conversational read, as if you were getting an upbeat recommendation from a family member, a friend, or your next door neighbor.

After you sit up, push up, stretch, and flex.

This is what we call the “list” aspect of the commercial. Whenever you have a list, there are two things that you want to be sure to do. First, you want to give each piece of that list its own little unique moment. You also, at the same, time want to do what’s called a “build.” In other words, you’re creating more interest by “building” slightly in your voice as you’re giving each of these things it’s independent moment. So instead of reading it as a list (boring)…you want to give each element its own unique moment and create a build.

What you’re doing is you’re reaching to a certain kind of of epiphany and then what you do? …”Relax with a cool glass of orange juice”… You want to say “relax” onomatopoetically, which means that you’re making that word sound like what it describes.

Finally, when you get to “Florida quality orange juice,” make sure you understand that’s the product, and so you have to give it a little bit of oomph… not too much again, but just enough to let the people know that that’s what we’re talking about. And you’ll notice that it’s not just “orange juice,” it’s “Florida quality orange juice.”  So we need to emphasize the qualifying ‘Florida quality” this time around.

So to sum up, you need to bring a smile to your read, a relaxed, conversational tone that makes me trust you, and happy and excited to listen to you. You need to have an awareness of how to work with lists, and of building excitement where appropriate. You need to tell a story. Put all of these together and it will an enjoyable commercial for that casting director or potential client to listen to.


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