Special thanks to Tristan Jensen pictured in the article.
Successful Ad Campaigns
When commercials are done well, they invite us into a micro-life moment that may feel like a scene from a sitcom, inspirational short film, or even a real-world social media clip. Often, there is no mention of the product until the end, allowing us to relate so fully to the situation that we forget that it’s an ad campaign. I would suggest that the best ads reflect what is happening in the world and can echo widely-felt sentiments and emotional undercurrents in less than 20 seconds.
Many brands create such devotion that they are no longer creating ad campaigns with the goal of attracting customers, but instead design narratives that we can relate to so deeply that it builds allegiance. More than ever, our values and core beliefs are represented in commercials as a response to so much disharmony on the world stage, and these campaigns are becoming the norm over the classic “hard sell”.
The most in-demand talent for commercials are those that fit the typical settings of home or work, or just… life. The characters are believable as a “mom”, “dad”, a “typical kid” with a ton of personality, or maybe a genuine “business person” type. All of these character types must strike us as being ‘just like us’. Authenticity is key. We look for people who are comfortable in their own skin because that confidence shows on camera. Moreover, we look for people who can grab our curiosity in a second, who have spark and unique personality; people that will pull our focus to watch the entire ad.
Engaging every target group with combinations of: deep social listening using data driven insights, and basic storytelling can give a more precise connection to what really matters.
Lifestyle ads are more relatable if they use everyday people who move and inspire us by overcoming obstacles. A trend to use real people, families, or skilled individuals for these spots is not going away any time soon. We use the power of social media engagement to connect with our followers and have booked a multitude of real people in amazing lifestyle campaigns.
Zoe is an example of someone who responded to one of our Facebook searches looking for people who have overcome a major health challenges. In her case, she had overcome cancer. She was cast alongside other inspirational people for this GNC #CourageToChange spot that was shot in Vancouver and slated to air for SuperBowl. Zoe was flown to the game as a Brand Ambassador for GNC too! The spot has had close to 17 million views.
Her behind the scenes video is a beautiful testament to the true courage and faith she found through yoga and acceptance, it also works as an effective addition to the lifestyle campaign.
Special thanks to Kaylah Zander @bighairdontcare and Brendan Taylor @MrBrendantaylor pictured in the article.
Commercials are a busy segment of BC’s film/tv production industry. Vancouver is a top location, known to ad agencies both foreign and domestic for its talent pool, stunning locations and full production services. Once a production starts here, everyone works together to meet very quick turn-arounds which is why the casting process and our searches can be so last minute!
What I Look For
The North American market is diverse and inclusive, and that reality reflects on a campaign’s target demographic. Often there is a call for a specific ethnicity or cultural representation, and that is when we take to social media to provide authenticity for these specific roles.
Auditions for new talent require in-person, on-camera attendance, so actors with training and the right ‘look’ would grab our attention first. Talent must be keen and available to make last-minute casting calls. It’s just not possible to work around a Talent’s schedule, so it is critical to have a flexible schedule, allowing one to audition during business hours.
My most in-demand role categories are: “parents”, “business persons”, or people in the age range of 30-40 years. These roles may require the talent to attend a couple of auditions a week, with the potential of further callbacks and if successful, a shooting schedule. The less in demand categories require approximately 1-3 auditions a month, also with the potential of callbacks and shooting.
The people that typically do well in these auditions are those that are already performing; either as traditional actors, dancers, musicians, or as someone who just enjoys entertaining others in small group settings like Toastmasters! With the trend towards real people, being able to talk naturally to the camera is often good enough for us. Nerves are fine if your humour and killer smile bring some lighter moments to the camera. Auditions often include: an introduction, a simple question to answer, and perhaps a reaction or two.
Auditioning for commercials can sometimes only be a one-off opportunity. If nothing else, it makes for a great story! But for others it can ignite a passion where they welcome the challenge and want to take it farther as a hobby or maybe even a career.
We have found many of our talented clients this way, of all ages, and some have launched into full-time work as professional actors. They understand that this is an absolute commitment of passion & grit. You don’t get paid to audition, so there is some risk involved; one doesn’t make money until one really starts winning auditions and tracking bookings. The biggest challenge is in designing a schedule where you are free before 5pm or, where your work/school life is flexible enough to carve out a few hours during daytime hours (10am to 5pm).
For those wanting to explore what it takes, I do recommend acting training for optimum success. A one-day commercial workshop is a great place to begin to learn the basics such as slating, camera work, natural reactions, one liners, jargon and confidence. For others, this industry might be a casual, occasional thing, and staying in touch with us through social media would be good enough.
Good photos are important as we work in a visual industry that wants to match you to a character they have in mind. To submit to my roster, casual snaps will do, as I prefer an honest and spirited tone. We often can market you from these photos. Make sure the photos fit our criteria on our Submissions page. For full-time actors, I recommend getting professional photos done through a vetted photographer who will shoot to represent you genuinely. A favourite part of my job as an agent is to advise talent on their brand range, and to help them pick the photos I believe will get them into the audition room; moreover, that will inspire the creative team who are considering them.
Submitting Our Talent
There are a number of services that agents & casting communicate on for projects. The most common one used locally has been http://www.castingworkbook.com/ which is a successful, user-paid service.
I’m pleased to be among the first to announce a newly launched casting database in Canada: https://corp.castingnetworks.com/ca/ We are excited to have this powerful database, used by every major Hollywood studio & network in our wheelhouse. With my agent code, we can register our talent with a basic profile for free, and submit to commercials and beyond!
About The Author
Pamela Wise is a Vancouver-based talent agent who sees with her heart & follows her intuition. She is passionate about matching fabulous humans to creative concepts. She believes that we all carry a story within us that can spark an on-screen character to life; inspiring heart-based story telling & fresh authenticity