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4. Make a TV ad

Posted on: August 8, 2023

The prospect of making a TV ad that everyone is going to see can feel quite daunting, but there is lots of help and advice available. Here’s an outline of the process involved, which should give you a steer, but please contact if you need more information or have any questions.

Writing the brief

Writing a brief is an important part of the process, as a good brief leads to improved communications and ultimately better work.

Before you start, you will need to ask yourself some questions such as:

  • What are the key objectives for this advertising campaign?
  • Is there a problem you are trying to solve?
  • What is the personality of your brand? And therefore, what tone of voice do you want the ad to have?
  • What are the most important brand attributes that you want to impart?
  • Are there any time-sensitive dates involved e.g. a new product launch?
  • How much money do you have to spend?

Ideally, the brief will also need to include:

  • Some background about the brand and any previous advertising activity
  • Information about the target audience (if known) – most likely future buyers
  • Are there any mandatory elements that need to be included e.g. logo, end line, financial regulations
  • Information about timings and also the sign off process

Briefing your creative partner

Usually, advertisers choose to work with a creative agency or full-service agency as their creative partner. However, advertisers can also choose to work directly with the broadcasters and their in-house creative teams.

Either way, there will be an initial meeting where you brief the creative team about what you want based on the above written brief.  This is their opportunity to interrogate you about what you want the final product to be and your opportunity to explain what’s most important to you and what your expectations are.

The creative team will then come back with suggestions for the ad and you select the idea you like best. It may take a few meetings until you get to this point, but the better the initial brief, the faster the process is likely to be.


All ads on TV need to be cleared by Clearcast to ensure they are in accordance with regulations set by the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP). The good news is that this service is free and that it covers all channels in the UK so, once they have approved your ad, you can broadcast it on any channel. The approval process is in three stages:

  1. Approval of script
  2. Approval of rough edit (not compulsory but strongly recommended)
  3. Approval of finished ad

Please be aware that any claims made in the ad will need to be substantiated and it is advisable to leave 2-3 weeks for the approval process. More info can be found here.

Production process

Once you have approved the ad concept and Clearcast have cleared the script, you are ready to go into production. Decisions that need to be made before you start will be about casting, location (if there is a shoot) and music. If you need to make a TV ad on a tight budget, there are things you can consider to keep the costs down:

  • Use library footage or existing content
  • Create your own music rather than pay for music rights
  • Don’t use real people (or keep the number of actors to a minimum)
  • Use a ‘young gun’ director
  • Give yourself plenty of time

Campaign approval

Once your ad is finished and has been cleared by Clearcast, it’s ready to go on air and start communicating your message. Be prepared for the impact of advertising on TV and ensure that you have enough product in stock, enough people to answer the phone and your website has enough capability to handle all the extra users generated by the TV ad.

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