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While watching daytime TV today waiting to see the commercial I just produced, I couldn’t help but notice what the talent was wearing on a local business’ ad. If you look closely at the photo below, you’ll see a handful of young people adorned in some very interesting outfits. It made me wonder who was behind the choice of wardrobe. If I had to guess, I’d say the client.
I’ve worked in the TV production industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I’ve had quite a bit of experience with wardrobe. When I worked as Production Manager at a San Diego ad agency, one of my duties was purchasing wardrobe for talent. A couple of years later, I was a freelance Wardrobe Assistant on a McDonald’s commercial, and have since dealt with wardrobe on various spots I’ve produced. While I may not be the most stylish person in my own wardrobe choices, I know what looks good on camera. The strapless striped dress, sequin dress, formal dress with a big pink bow, and the other outfits pictured above are the opposite of what I would have chosen. I wonder if other people watching the same ad had a similar reaction, because my first and immediate thought when the commercial came on TV was, “Seriously? They are really wearing that?”
Image vs. Authenticity
When making a TV commercial, it’s important to tell an authentic story while also maintaining the right image, whether that image is classy, casual, family oriented, value driven, or whatever. I have a few theories as to why the business chose the talent and wardrobe they did for this particular commercial.
Perhaps they wanted to reach a high-end demographic. If that was the case, they should have used older talent who potential customers can relate to, and then in turn dressed them in clothing that they would actually wear when shopping for flooring (MAYBE a notch above that). That being said, they should also consider a different media buy because this commercial aired during a pretty trashy daytime talk show that I wouldn’t normally watch.
Maybe the business wanted to showcase family in the commercial to promote family values. I get that! But putting them in clothing more appropriate in church or at a school dance doesn’t really make sense. Dressing up is always fun and it has its place, but not in this particular TV commercial.
A Keen Eye
This commercial wasn’t very high-budget, so there was probably no wardrobe supervisor or stylist to purchase wardrobe options ahead of time. I’m wondering who gave the talent wardrobe guidelines (my guess is the client) and who was responsible for letting them go on camera this way (ultimately everyone on set). I would think that the hair and make-up person would have said something to someone, or at least the Director and/or Producer could have suggested a quick trip home to change clothes or to Target to buy some casual options. Or perhaps everybody thought it was just fine, which is the most alarming scenario.
When I work on a commercial, I always ask the talent to bring options with them. It never hurts. Or, on higher-budget jobs, there’s a wardrobe person or stylist who is responsible for purchasing plenty of appropriate options. Either way, there should always be at least one set of eyes on every little detail, ESPECIALLY wardrobe, before saying ACTION! A good TV producer should always provide input on wardrobe when shooting a commercial. There is a way to find compromise with what the client wants and what will produce a quality finished product. It’s all about how you say it!
Speaking of wardrobe picks, there’s the whole “Wardrobe Malfunction” category with TV in general…YIKES! I’m not even going there…but you can read about it here. Have you noticed any commercials with a ridiculous choice of wardrobe? Or am I the only one paying attention to things like this? Tell me!
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