How To Create An Effective Radio/Television Commercial Without A Script – Tim Burt Explains

Local radio and television commercials are usually ridiculed and ignored far more often than they are acted upon by the audience.

They’re on in every city, every hour, every day.

The owner of (insert business here), rambling on from a laundry list of “bullet points” that simply must be in the commercial.

But these points rarely – if ever – have anything to do with convincing the audience to come buy from that particular store.

Frankly, I’m sick of it.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s one reason why I say in my “Marketing Intervention” seminars that 99% of all advertising is a waste of money.

So I’m going to give away one of my most treasured advertising secrets that I use quite often: creating an effective commercial – without writing a script.

I’m going to do this on a free webinar on April 8th at 7 p.m. Central time, USA.

This is a 100% content, no hype, no selling webinar…and it will be live. If you can’t make it live, you will be able to watch the replay – only if you register.

You can do that by clicking here.

If you’d rather post the direct link in your browser, here it is:

If you follow this blog because you produce commercials, or you have clients that do, you absolutely do not want to miss this webinar.

In fact, there’s a very good chance this will be the only time I ever cover this topic in a free webinar. Normally, I would reserve something this good for my paid webinar attendees.

Again, if you can’t make it live, you’ll have access to the replay – but only if you register.

Unlike my other webinars, I will not make this video public.

Just go here to sign up:

Tim Burt Commercial Professor webinar meme

Tim Burt

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This Car Commercial Is A Slick Waste Of Money. Expert Marketer Tim Burt Reviews

(No script? No problem! Learn how I create ultra-effective advertising without a script on a free webinar April 8th. Click here to register.)

“Advertising solves problems. You’re selling results.”

Keep that in mind as you watch this car commercial from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

A large part of this commercial seems like it was lifted from the Milwaukee Tourism Association…which makes it that much more confusing.

Yet, it’s fueled almost entirely by ego.

I’m all for using “unexpectedness” to sell a product. This commercial does that very well.

They’re ultimately trying to sell vehicles. Not the city of Milwaukee.


Imagine for a moment that you’re a new resident of Milwaukee, and you’re in the market for a new car.

Is there anything that you saw in the ad that would make you want to go to this dealership?

There is no direct call to action. Usually I have to remove multiple references on telling the audience what to do (website, plus phone number, plus physical location) – here, we have nothing.

So what exactly do you want me to do, Mr. Griffin (guessing that’s the name of the “star” of the ad)?


“50 years in the car business.” Good for you. Still doesn’t make me want to go there.

“(We know) a whole lot more than the bean counters that work downtown.” Nice job alienating a sector of the audience who you’re trying to convince to drive a Chrysler 200. After all, isn’t that an “upscale” model? The very people who are in a position to buy that car probably are “bean counters.”


For a locally produced car commercial, this is slick.

It’s certainly not the atypical “car dealer walking on the lot talking about how many acres of cars he has to sell.”

Again, “unexpectedness” can be a powerful advertising and marketing tool – when done properly.

But if the goal of this commercial is to simply have the audience say in casual conversation “have you seen that Griffin’s Hub ad?”, then mission accomplished.

If it’s to motivate someone to visit the dealership to actually buy a car…try again.

The sung line at the end of “is there a Griffin’s Hub tag on your car” – while nicely done – gives the audience absolutely no reason to feel pride that they bought their car at Griffin’s Hub.

If the cars were made in Milwaukee, then yes.

Since our “star” repeatedly references Detroit…well, you do the math.

Tim Burt



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Should You Begin A Commercial With A Question? Expert Marketer Tim Burt Explains

Should you begin your radio commercial with a question? It’s a topic that has been debated in the advertising world for decades.

3D man near red question mark

Recently, I read a thread in a Facebook group about this very topic. The person who opened the discussion mentioned that he was about to speak at a university, and this very question was written on the white-board at the front of the room.

This person emphatically said “no” for the following reason:


Those who believe that you shouldn’t begin your commercial with a question will argue that whatever your opening line is, it gives the audience the opportunity to say “no”, and leave that radio station.

While the thought process (on the surface) may seem logical, it’s actually flawed.

Here’s my reasoning: you’re only talking to your targeted audience. In other words, you’re only speaking to those who are actually in the market for that advertiser’s good, product, or service.


For instance, I could place 100 free pizzas in a room of 100 self-proclaimed “pizza lovers”,  and tell them to take whatever they want.

Some will take entire boxes, while others may only take a few slices.

Then there are those who won’t touch any of them for varying reasons (they’re dieting, the pizzas have the wrong toppings, deep-dish vs. thin crust, etc.).

But they’re all “pizza lovers”, right?

The bottom line: even though you think that everyone in the audience may love/want/need your particular product or service, they don’t.

And they never will.

You will never, ever convert 100% of a targeted audience when selling something. Ever.

But would you settle for 30%?


Not every script I write begins with a question.

But I will start an advertisement by posing a question if it leads the audience to solve the problem in their life with the question I posed.

For instance (as I state in almost all of my seminars), I will pose this question:

“If your house burned down tomorrow, do you have enough fire insurance to rebuild?”

The purpose of that question as the opening line of the commercial is to get the audience to quickly think about their homeowner’s insurance policy.

If they answer “yes”, then the odds are that I may never be able to get them to switch to the advertiser who is paying for the ad.

If they answer “no”, then I have hooked them. It’s the rest of the copy’s job to make sure they don’t wiggle off it.


With a stupid question.

I’ve actually heard an ad that began: “Hey, do you like pizza?”

Instead, why not say “Have you ever had an authentic Sicilian-style pizza? With the garlic-butter crust, the oregano baked in the sauce, and toppings that measure almost an inch high?”


Don’t be stupid with your initial line of questioning, and your audience won’t think you’re stupid, too.

Starting a commercial with a question can be a powerful way to keep your targeted audience listening. But you don’t always have to start with one – only when it’s warranted.

Tim Burt

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[pro tip] How To Sell In A Radio Commercial Via Storytelling – Expert Marketer Tim Burt Explains

First, listen to the commercial:

(note: if you’re not able to view the player on your device, click here to play it on the webpage)

Notice how easily you were invited into the picture? This is a one-minute commercial that doesn’t feel like it’s a minute.


Granted, this is a scenario that we all hope never happens to us. But that is the strength of the ad.

Do you know what you would do if you walked out of the barbecue place and your vehicle was gone?

If you don’t have OnStar…well…good luck.

This is an easy-to-follow tale of misfortune.

But notice how instead of listing a bunch of bullet points from a brochure, they sell you on how easy and fast it is to recover your vehicle should it get stolen?

The script-writer and narrator could have bored you with technical specifications, sales-speak, and automotive gibberish.

Instead, they took the best path: talking to the audience in easily relatable terms.


And what a problem this would be, yes?

Butif you have the OnStar app on your phone, a simple tap of a few icons connects you to help…to the most important problem in your life at that moment: getting your vehicle back.

A CORE RULE that I discuss relentlessly in my Marketing Intervention Seminars is: advertising solves problems. You’re selling the result of using that particular good, product, or service.

This commercial demonstrates that with devastating efficiency, and simplicity.


At the 19 second mark when the voice-over actor says, “A soothing woman says ‘no problem’,” I would have actually used a woman’s voice for that part. It would strengthen the element of realism in this commercial.

A very minor criticism, yes. But it doesn’t greatly detract from this commercial’s effectiveness.


There’s a reason this spot has made it into my “Good Commercial Hall Of Fame.”

It’s easy to follow, paints a fantastic picture of how to solve an otherwise horrible experience, and the audience is easily pulled into the scenario.

Grade: A+.

Tim Burt

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How To Sell In A Radio Commercial With Storytelling – OnStar / Chevy Silverado

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[video] Cadillac ELR 2014 Commercial Critique – Expert Marketer Tim Burt Reviews

First, the commercial:

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this advertisement for the new Cadillac hybrid ELR. The message in the first 3/4 of the ad speaks to American gusto, which has received a lot of attention from right-wing talk shows. They contend this commercial should remind / instruct the country that (maybe) too many of its citizens have forgotten what it means to be “American.”

(No, I’m not criticizing or praising right-wing talk show hosts, or their ilk. My posts are strictly non-political.)


When Cadillac decides to jump in the (expanding) electric car market, it should be done with great fanfare.

After all, the classic “brand” of Cadillac conjures images of power, wealth, and class. Fossils who love fossil fuel.

“Electric” cars are for the eco-freaks. Young kids hell-bent on “saving the planet.”

At least that’s the stereotype.

Can these two diametrically opposed worlds collide – and succeed? Apparently so.

Clearly, market research showed Cadillac could make an electric vehicle that will sell.


This construction of this commercial is just outside of my “80/20 Death Trap” formula.

Far too many commercials spend 80% of their time with a setup that is loosely connected (or not at all) to the actual sales message – which makes up the other 20%.

In this instance, it’s about 77%-23%.

The setup of the story (American bravado, etc.) takes up 46 seconds, only leaving 13 1/2 seconds of actual selling of an exciting new product for Cadillac.

So what is more important? Clearly, the telling of the story is far more critical in the mind of the ad agency/Cadillac than giving us specifics.


  • How far will it go on one charge?
  • Is it available now?
  • It it comparable in price to other (seemingly expensive) electric cars?
  • How long does it take to fully recharge the battery?

Sadly, we don’t know. The commercial doesn’t say.

While I know some will make the argument that this is just a “teaser” commercial, wouldn’t Cadillac be better served shaving 15 seconds or so from the story – and selling us the car?


The biggest positive point of this commercial occurs at about :46, when our fearless, sharp-dressed storyteller pulls the charge cord out of the car.

Also, notice that he’s at the front of the car – not the back end, where you’d normally fill up.

In one of my recent free marketing webinars, I discussed “selling the impossible.”

In short: if your product, good, or service does something that the audience didn’t know could be done, show it to them.

Did you ever think you’d see an electric Cadillac? I certainly didn’t.


I love the idea of an electric car that doesn’t look like a breadbox (the Tesla excluded).

Perhaps in our lifetime, these types of vehicles will be the rule, not the exception.

As for selling the impossible? A+

This commercial has a great patriotic message – but I wish they had spent more time showing us the inside of this beautiful electric vehicle.

Overall, I give this a B.

Tim Burt

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“Jamie Casino” Super Bowl 48 Commercial Critique – Marketing Expert Tim Burt Reviews

The choice of a lawyer is an important one, and should not be based solely upon advertisements.”

That’s the disclaimer I’ve had to read countless times while doing radio and television commercials for legal firms though the years.

But you don’t see or hear it in this advertisement.

Regardless, this ad during this years Super Bowl has generated over 5 million views on YouTube alone.

(Personal note: I wish I could have critiqued this ad live while I was on the Wall Street Journal panel on Super Bowl Sunday. Sadly, this was a local t.v. ad which was only seen in Savannah, Georgia.)

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the full two-minute commercial:

Impressive for a “local” television commercial? You bet it is.

The Good

1) It utilizes one of the core principles of advertising extremely well, which is unexpectedness.

Let’s face it: during the Super Bowl, the audience waits for those 30-second bites about singing animals selling beer, goofy kids eating Doritos, etc.

You don’t expect to see a story about a local lawyer (in Savannah) who wanted to forcefully make his point to the upper echelon of the city police about a family tragedy.

2) The production quality is outstanding with great editing.

3) It holds your attention. While the back half has periods of repetition, I’ll be the audience didn’t find themselves at any point being bored with it.

Needed Refinement:

1) The first :47 of this is pretty gripping stuff. Then, we’re treated to almost a full minute (57 seconds, to be precise) of the song “Devil Gets Your Soul” by Nick Nolan (to which I’m assuming Mr. Casino acquired the rights).

This is where the advertisement began to drag slightly. The story was pushed along quite well in the first :47, then it slows down and is repetitive, overly dramatic, and a bit ego-driven.

2) The acting was…fair, at best. If there was anything to remind you that this wasn’t a national commercial, this is it. The dialogue of the cop and the kid seemed forced.

In my opinion, the child should have been a bit younger. That would have added an element of innocence, and true discovery for him. What does his dad do when he goes to work?

When the child asks the question the second time, we see Mr. Casino’s second job – smashing grave markers with a sledgehammer (@ 1:46).

3) Casino’s voice-over part should have been more spaced apart, especially at the end, with a bit of re-sequencing. Imagine at about 1:47 if he had said:

I don’t represent villains anymore…I’m attorney Jamie Casino…now…I speak for those… who cannot speak for themselves.”

Same intent and tone. But just by adding “now”, it would have sealed the deal on his new image.

Addition By Subtraction

What did this commercial not have?

  • A phone number
  • A website
  • The address where his principle office is located

The only call to action is a Twitter hashtag (#CasinosLaw).

This isn’t your typical “My lawyer got me a $5,000,000 settlement when I slipped on the floor at the gas station!” commercial.

Interesting, to say the least.

In The End…

I give the guy massive kudos for dominating an entire commercial break (or most of one, anyway) during the biggest viewing day of the year. That takes guts, foresight, passion, and a lot of cash.

The unexpected nature of the commercial alone has garnered this guy millions of hits online. It’s an unorthodox way to get traffic, without question.

But…he’s just now a personal injury lawyer? Nothing more?

Is he just re-imaging himself? Or just calling out his local police department?

Not being in Savannah, this is a bit confusing without further research.

If his point was to just air his grievances, this isn’t very effective.

If it’s to lure clients, parts of it are awfully powerful.

Overall Grade?

The first half? A+++. However, that massive space between :47 and 1:44 is a “C”, which I’ll split down the middle, and give it a B+.

Of course, the President of the Georgia Bar Association had a typical reaction.

Tim Burt

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