(1) Just say “no” to the Beta Cam – It doesn’t matter who you’re using for production, the bottom line is that they’re going to try to sell you on using their one remaining, 700 pound beta camera from the mid 80’s, because all of their brand new HD cams are already spoken for on the day you’re shooting. And that Beta is sitting in a closet somewhere, just waiting for the right client. Don’t be that client.

(2) There is no such thing as a “cool” transition in a :30 spot. Well, there is, but it’s basically a 10 frame cross fade that’s so fast you can’t really see it anyway. If you think you need a transition somewhere, what you actually need is a better edit point. You’ve got 30 seconds – don’t waste it on a bunch of concentric circles closing in on someone’s face.

(3) Turn the V/O down. Trust me. It’s too loud. To illustrate this, turn on any prime time broadcast program, and when the first slate of commercials comes on, close your eyes. Rather than watch them, just listen to them. You’ll be able to distinguish the local spot simply by the way the sound is mixed. Specifically, how out-in-front the voice over is. It doesn’t need to be that loud. Your audience will hear it just fine, even if you back it into the mix a little more.

(4) Hide the lav. The sound guy will tell you that if he hides it, it won’t pick up well. Not true. It’s just that hiding a lav mic is a hassle and requires a little trial and error to get the rustles and odd noises worked out. The alternative is that your spokesman looks like a news anchor. Not good. Imagine for a moment, Alec Baldwin walking into frame on a Hulu spot with a lavaliere mic strapped to his tie. Not cool.

(5) Graphics are there to be read. Not to delight. Dancing words, swirling phone numbers – they all look like WordArt in a PowerPoint, and point to a certain fascination with software packages. They are the video equivalent of scrap booking. Avoid them. They’re distracting.

(6) If you’re Gary Woo…and you’re advertising Gary Woo’s China Bistro, make sure you clean the fish tank before you feature it as the centerpiece of your “special events” room. Okay, that one’s personal, but jeez – every time I see that ad, I lose my appetite.

(7) If you’re advertising a funeral home…it really is not a good idea to run a “Stimulus Package Special”. I wish I were making this up, but I’m not. (This ad actually scored a “Local Don’ts” hat trick – the ad is shot on beta and features a guy wearing a lav mike on his vest. Sweet.)


Christian Boswell is President & Executive Creative Director at bfw Advertising in Boca Raton, Florida. bfw Advertising is a full service marketing and communications firm with strong competencies in new media. The South Florida advertising agency creates and builds client brands with strategic thinking and on-target creative executions. For more information call (561) 962-3300 or visit https://www.gobfw.com/ on the web.