Benchmark #04: Commercial Treatment Proposal

due 10/3

Filmmakers must sell their ideas before they can produce them. In the industry, the written document used to sell a film idea is called a treatment. Before you have clearance to work on your campaign commercial, your team must write a treatment and propose it to the class.

Written in prose, at least 500 words, your proposal must include the following:

  1. a description of your target voter
    Campaigns don’t pay for commercials to preach to the already converted. The purpose of your ad is to convince an unconvinced voter to show up to the polls and vote the way you want her to. What is the profile of that unconvinced voter? Why is she unconvinced?
  2. the relevant focus group research
    What did you learn from your focus group research that will apply to the strategy and design of your commercial?
  3. the general strategy of your campaign ad
    How will you convince your target voter? How will your ad present argument and imagery to appeal to your voter’s intellect and emotions?
  4. a narrative description of what your ad will look like, from start to finish


On Friday, 10/3, your group will stand before the class to present the information above.

Every group member must speak during the oral presentation. Sketch out a script that addresses all the elements listed above, and divide it among you.

All the Metro standards for public speaking apply: face the audience with confident posture and prepare notes that allow you to maintain eye contact with your audience.

Some Examples

. . . According to our focus group research, most Democrats and Green voters were already certain they were going to vote for Gore. Republicans, however, were split between the two major candidates and less certain of their votes. Because of this, we’ve decided to aim our advertisement towards the Republicans in the 39–54 age group.

We decided to focus our ad on the issue of Social Security, since it will affect our demographic severely. It was also more important to Republicans than it was to Democrats, being an issue of high concern among those we interviewed. People also were not generally aware of either big candidate’s position on Social Security . . .

. . . George W. Bush’s campaign video will focus upon his ideas for education reform. The video will begin with a close-up of the face of an anguished child, remembering. In the background is a voice-over of the child desperately trying to read. The colors are blue, gray, cool colors. Headlines of the tragedies at school by students of the past few years fly by him, and sounds from the news of same fades in and out. A narrator speaks of the fact that in the past eight years teen crime has gone up, and education has gone down, drawing these parallels directly to the Clinton/Gore Administration, and the voice-over describes how Al Gore’s plans do less to improve America’s education and children. Statistics and headlines of these effects will flash onto the screen. Cut to orange, warmer colors of the child being helped to read by a capable, encouraging teacher. The child now is smiling and well-adjusted. The camera now is tracking while in the first segment it was stationary. The voice-over continues, envisioning a world of the future of smart children and good schools. End with a slogan of support for Bush. “Isn’t it time to do something for our children? Vote for Bush.” Because Republicans were split over their vote, the slogan of our campaign will be “Vote for the person, not the party.” We hope to capture the indecision of the Republican Party . . .

We are going to use subtle metaphors in our video to create poor views of Bush, and possibly create a good feeling around Gore. For instance, the video might incorporate an elderly woman on Social Security that has failed under the Bush plan. To make a living, she now cuts shrubbery for her neighbors. The ad will specifically avoid directly mentioning Bush in any negative manner, and probably will not mention him at all. We will also try to avoid saying anything directly good about Gore as well, because we want to stress the issues he stands for in order to grab the Republicans’ attention – to stress his character or personality might make them cast a vote the other way, falling on more familiar terms.

In addition, we are going to work in the metaphor of a parachute into the ad. We want to stress that jumping without a parachute is not a very smart thing to do – and that we must ensure the parachute remains available to use in the future.