TV advertising

Consider the following when planning a TV advertising campaign:

  1. Use a reputable media agency or the cabinet office media buying contractor
    Contact the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising to find out more about selecting an agency. Local authorities should buy their media from M4C, as they are the sole buying agency for all of the UK government’s paid for media. Voluntary adoption agencies could contact Mediacom the sister agency to M4C who have regional offices throughout the UK. You could also contact thinkbox as they are the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK and are happy to give strategic planning advice. They also have a wealth of useful information on their website. If you do enlist the services of an agency to produce the advert make sure to write a very tight specification, stating clearly what you want to achieve and emphasise production values need to be in line with your other marketing materials.

  2. Know who you’re targeting
    Your message and scheduling will be determined by your audience. Most broadcasters will allow you to place adverts in defined areas in order to reach a specific population or test messaging on a small group before distributing more widely. Having a good agency to advise you on this will be critical to your success.

  3. How do I make a TV commercial
    You will have to enlist the services of either a production company or an advertising agency. You could do it yourself on a small budget but most people prefer to enlist the help of professionals. That said, good creative ideas that resonate will have more impact on success than slick production.

  4. Your advert needs to adhere to the UK broadcasting code
    Clearcast check adverts against the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (the BCAP Code), which sets out what is and isn’t permitted. If you’re working with an agency this should be included in their service.

  5. How much will it cost to produce an advert?This will depend on numerous factors and will be based on the cost of pulling together the component parts of the advert. Music, cast, location, creative content and quality of production will all impact on the final cost. Adverts can be produced for as little as a few thousand pounds if done in-house but through an agency you will be looking at around £15-20K and up.

  6. Child performance licencing
    If you’re enlisting the help of child actors (even unpaid) you will need to get a child performance licence. This will take up to 21 days to process so make sure to factor this into your schedule.

  7. When should we be broadcasting our message?
    Think about both numbers and mind-set of your target audience. When are my target audience going to be listening and what is the best time of day for your message to sink in? These two factors should be considered together when deciding when to broadcast. You should also consider on demand TV advertising as this can promote a good number of website referrals.

  8. What length should our advert be?
    Thirty seconds seems to be a common time length. This will allow you to say the things that need to be said, without rushing through the content. You can however, choose to create a shorter advert provided you can achieve your messaging goals in less time.

  9. How long should the campaign run for?
    Four weeks is pretty standard for most campaigns. This depends though on your objectives. Do you want to create a constant level of awareness or do you want to create the maximum amount of awareness as quickly as possible? Four weeks should be the minimum amount of time to run your campaign as it takes time to build momentum. Depending on your budget, the longer you run your advert the more awareness you’ll build. You can consider running a continuous block of adverts for three months or you could spread three months throughout the year in three x one month bursts. Initial results from the adoption sector show that performance tails off towards the end of the period. It may be more effective to have a gap two thirds through scheduling, and running the advert again at a later stage to try and recapture the impact of the initial run.

  10. How can we maximise the impact of our advert?
    Consistency and clarity are important when creating TV adverts; the look and feel of the advert should reflect your online and offline brand. Integrating with your website is absolutely vital as it will serve to reinforce the messaging and provide a place for people to find out much more about you. Always include your contact number for potential adopter inquiries and your web address. Using images from the TV advert on the website is a good way to build a consistent look and will mean that people are immediately familiar with your site.


The above has been collated from research and expertise in the adoption field. It is not an exhaustive list and we welcome a continued dialogue with our partners up and down the country so that we may evolve and share new ideas together. If you have any comments you’d like to add about this guide then please email them to