Hey Good Lookin’ — should you really be in your own TV spot?

Owner This might ruffle a lot of feathers, so let the comments fly.  With very, very few exceptions (and I mean very, very) you should not be in your own TV spots.  And in most cases, you shouldn't be in your own radio ads or voiceover work either.

I know…but you are different.  People tell you how good you are. 

They are lying. 

They aren't being mean.  They either have no clue how to evaluate if you are good or not, or they are being polite.  Honestly, in most cases, they are being polite.  Either way, you are not good. 

You look uncomfortable.  You sound uncomfortable.  Frankly, you come off a little stiff and uptight.

If I have not brought a curse upon my house with the above statements, let me add this.  Your kids and grandkids shouldn't be in your ads either.  They may well be cute as a button but that doesn't mean it's a good choice.

I recognize how intoxicating the attention and comments are.  "Hey, saw you on TV.  You looked great!"  But you are paying a pretty penny to garner a compliment or two, aren't you?

Let's try to be objective here.  If you saw an ad where the spokesperson was awkward, uncomfortable, stiff or just looked amateurish, would that give you a sense of confidence about their product or service? You've got enough competition and obstacles when it comes to selling your wares. 

Bottom line – don't let your ego or an overzealous sales rep tell you it's a good idea for you to star in your own commercials.  Use professionals in your advertising.  It's worth the investment.

Unless I know you.  Then, you look great.

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19 comments on “Hey Good Lookin’ — should you really be in your own TV spot?

  1. Drew, you hit upon my pet peeve! I worked in radio for a long time, and I support you wholeheartedly. Fifty-year-old auto mechanics should not be voicing their own spots. And please, PLEASE, for the love of all that is good in the world, do not invite your 7-year-old granddaughter into the studio with you so she can help!!

  2. Janet Green says:

    Drew, would you make an exception for “holiday season thank-you commercials?” Although they are frequently awful in execution, I’ve always appreciated the sentiment behind a business owner paying for TV time to run an ad that thanks their customers. These wouldn’t feel as personal if the message were communicated by an announcer. I’m curious if you make any distinction, or if the potential for awfulness still out-weighs the “personalization” factor. ~ Janet

  3. Chris Punke says:

    This is an excellent point, Drew and for some reason brings up memories of car dealer ads gone bad… “Come on down to Billy Bob’s Used Cars!!! We’ve got a deal for YOU!”

    In TV or radio ads, most business people just don’t appear to “be in their element” — where they are comfortable — where they shine. As a result, they come across as shaky, uncomfortable, cheesy, or worse — SALESY.

    I think that’s where web video can come to the rescue. It’s not a commercial… not an ad… not a sales-gimmick… it’s a chance for business owners to talk about what they know. To teach. To share. To connect. And it gives us, the consumer, a chance to listen and learn. If a business person takes the time to teach me something useful, to listen and respond to my questions, I am usually going to give them a chance to sell to me.

    Great points. Great post!

  4. Chris Wilson says:

    I feel a lot better knowing that I’m not the only one to have such thoughts.

    My wife and I have added making fun of horrible local TV spots to our morning routine. There is one in particular that is really just awful. It is for a home builder that evidently thinks having the owners granddaughter tell me to “let my family build your families home,” is going to make me run for my check book and call my mortgage broker. This is horrible to say but her lisp is so bad that you can barely understand what she is saying. I think after watching the commercial 3 or 4 times I finally understood her.

    Every time I watch it I get this mental picture of the whole family building my house. There’s grandma firing up the nail gun, while the grandkids do the bricking.

    If you want to fill a role, you have to look the part.

  5. Kate says:

    I absolutely agree – thanks for coming out and saying it! Unless you embrace it as shtick a la Bob’s Discount Furniture (if you are from the New England area you know what I’m talking about), it’s generally a bad idea, can hurt your brand, and ultimately a waste of money.

  6. Nikole Gipps says:

    This is so true! It’s like if your TV spot is going to feature you, the talking robot … you might as well not bother. In the end, it hurts instead of helps you. What a waste of money!

  7. I realize that this will sound utterly self-contradictory, but it takes an awful lot of practice to look and sound natural. That’s why there are professionals!

  8. Gavin Heaton says:

    So we are all of one mind! OK … but does this apply to social media? What about podcasts? What about youtube?

  9. David,

    I figured this would resonate with those of you in the media. But remember…you’re also the people who are saying “No, no Bob. That was really great. You sound so natural.” as the guy finishes his 3rd take and you want him out of the studio.

    I know it’s a fine line…but the media production departments do not help in this arena.


  10. Janet,

    Well, first…I would not recommend people spend their marketing dollars on a TV schedule to say thank you. 99% of the people they are thanking have no idea who they are.

    If they want to say thank you, they should do it personally or at least in a letter directed to the actual customer.

    But…if they are determined to do a holiday thank you on TV, then no, it probably needs to be them. Otherwise a very impersonal thank you just gets more impersonal.


  11. Chris,

    Agreed — at best they come off stiff and uncomfortable. Worst — sleazy used car salesmanesque.

    I think video, where they are talking/teaching is a very different thing. If you shoot a few times, they forget about the camera and get into their own groove.

    Then, we can see why people choose to do business with them!


  12. Chris,

    The image of grannie with a nail gun is going to haunt me all day! Please tell me she isn’t wearing a dress and a toolbelt!


  13. Kate,

    Do you think the schtick works or does it just say, “we’re incredibly cheap and so is the stuff we sell.”


  14. Nikole,

    Not only is it a waste of money — but it goes beyond that. It actually costs you money because customers are going to get a bad taste in their mouth about your business.


  15. Steve,

    Exactly! And most often, they look a lot better too!


  16. Lewis,

    That is a very true statement. Like your wife, I am embarrassed and feel sorry for the people in the spots. They have no idea how they’re coming across and everyone along the way is telling them how great they are.

    Sometimes being nice is really mean.


  17. Gavin,

    I think there’s a finer line when it comes to podcasts and YouTube or other web videos. I think the standards and expectations are different.

    And I think what we compare them to is different. Most of the web-based video I see is totally or half home grown. Even from companies like HP. So our tolerance is deeper.

    The mediums seem to make people less ill at ease, so they come off more authentically, I think.

    What do you think?


  18. Drew, just wanted you to know that I finally noticed you got a professional new photo of you up on the site – and you look good!! ;o)

  19. Josie,

    Whew…I was worried that you would think it looked too common. I tried the smoking jacket and pipe but I looked too Masterpiece Theatre! :-}

    Thanks for noticing.


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