Commercial Acting Tips

By Darryl Green

  • Appling the Rule of Threes…

    Figuring out exactly what to do in order to give a strong commercial audition can be challenging. It’s not just a simple matter of smiling while saying the product name and hoping for the best.

    There are critical elements of style, for instance, that must color your delivery, dependent upon the type of commercial you’re trying out for. If you’re familiar with the commercial type and demonstrate its distinctive style, you’ll obviously do well. But if those elements are missing, you needn’t bother writing down the shooting date in your calendar.

    Here’s a useful shorthand tool for clarifying your needs and keeping you a step ahead of the competition. It breaks commercials down in three stages, enabling you to classify the commercial, develop the requisite performance, and ultimately refine the delivery.

    Each commercial classification has three specific criteria of style-hence the “Rule of Threes.” Let’s look at this tool in detail and cite some examples:

    Step 1: Classify the Type of commercial

    Commercials can be broken down into just three basic types. There’s the product-spokesperson spot, the slice-of-life spot, and the classic spot. (“Spot” is industry jargon for commercial.) Any other commercial is nothing more than a variation or combination of these three.

    In the prestigious product-spokesperson spot, you’re the only one (besides the product) in the commercial. It’s your job and yours alone to sell the product.

    In the slice-of-life spot, you perform ordinary routines such as shopping at a store, eating at a restaurant, working at your job, or engaging in recreation with family or friends. In most cases, this kind of spot has a separate narrator, meaning of course, you’ll have no dialogue.

    The classic spot truly deserves its name, having been around since TV began. In this type of commercial, a problem is presented, such as, for example, a large stain in your beautiful carpet. Then the product is introduced, after which comes the resolution: the product makes short work of the nasty stain, and presto—life is now worth living.

    Step 2: Develop Your delivery According to Type

    If you’re auditioning for a product-spokesperson spot, you’ll want to affect a delivery that exudes a polished sense of authority.

    If you’re going out for the slice-of-life spot, all you need to concentrate on is going through familiar, real-life activities in an unaffected, good-natured way. (How could you shop with authority?)

    Your delivery in the classic spot is a little more complex because it involves carefully orchestrating your moods. For example, you’ll need to display frustration during the beginning, problem portion. Then you should indicate grateful amazement during the clean-up or resolution stage. Finally, you should end the spot with an expression that clearly demonstrates that a bottle Stain-Be-Gone is the best friend you ever had.

    Step 3: Refine Your Performance According To Environment

    In the product-spokesperson spot, you need to fine-tune your authority by adding some personal warmth. However, your surroundings will dictate just how much. In a clinical setting, for instance, you might be wearing a white lab coat and pitching aspirin. You would want, on balance, lots of authority and a little warmth.

    In a corporate environment, where you’d wear a suit and sell something such as financial services or long-distance phone service, you’d do better with more warmth than authority.

    A third, less common style for the product spokesperson is the comedic one. Producers often look for a comedian to fill such a role. But if, during your audition, your timing is good and you genuinely entertain the room, your chances are just as good as any comic’s.

    Remember to always look for and consult the storyboard at every commercial audition. Next to your commercial sides, it’s the best thing for confirming the choices you’ve derived from applying the Rule of Threes.

    About The Author
    Mark Brandon’s Winning auditions is a concise guide designed to help actors immediately increase their callbacks and booking rates. Hollywood Producer/Writer Bob Fraser wrote, “This baby belongs in every portfolio or knapsack of every actor on the planet!” Visit Mark’s site at:

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