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Commercial Copy Challenges: Find
The Power In Those Short Lines
October 28, 2014

By Hugh Klitzke
Casting Director and Coach

Commercials are a very short form. That's one of the many reasons I admire commercial copy. 

After years of working with actors to make it alive - I can still look down and go: "Such an economy of means!" without an iota of artifice.     

And its brevity makes it a challenge for the actor.  

Look at it this way ...
  • Mess up one line in a four-line piece of copy and you are down 25%. 
  • Mess up four words in a 10-word tag and you are down 40%.    
Therefore ...

Always try to find the story to tell:   
"Love" is a pretty strong word and I'd never heard it used to describe a bank before.  So, I called First Republic.   
Look for the first line to give you point of view:
Flowers are romantic.  Especially when they come with pink sand beaches and crystal blue water.    
Understand the functions of questions in the copy.  Are they merely interrogative or are they rhetorical?   
Are you spending more time worrying than shopping? Or are you a Cardmember?  American Express. 
Don't underestimate all the power in those small lines.   
Hugh P. Klitzke is studio manager and voice casting director for a leading bi-coastal talent agency, who has directed more than 85,000 auditions for all voice over genres. Based in New York City, he is also a coach specializing in teaching voice over for actors, and writes VO4TA, a twice-weekly blog with helpful voice acting tips.


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Comments (1)
Ed (Ed-VO) Waldorph
10/29/2014 at 12:08 PM
Brief and to the point, in keeping with the subject. Thanks,Hugh.

One of the reasons I love this job is because I love the English language. It's malleable; you can twist it, pull it until it's just the right shape. Have you ever just repeated a word into unintelligibility; something that looks familiar but is rendered into a meaningless string of sounds? (Incidentally, a neat trick to thwart those trippy little devils that stub your tongue and send you crashing headlong into a mental block. Speaking of mental blocks, I live in the big white house on the corner.)

Back to copy. Conservation of words doesn't mean conservation of meaning. In a language that asked you to say a word or sentence more than five current ways, each with an equally valid - though not necessarily appropriate meaning - true professionals will always rule this game.
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