TV Commercial Production: Finding Captivating Stories in the Mundane

Posted by Liza Heiskell


Nov 20, 2018 3:38:57 PM

Now more than ever, I love commercials – in particular, commercials that tell a story.  I’m that person that puts down their phone to watch the commercial in between the big game or TV show.  Telling a really good story in 30 to 60 seconds is an art, and I admire the creatives who do it so well.

As a video producer of TV commercials and web videos, I find inspiration in those commercials that I love. I think about what has touched me, what has made me laugh, cry or inspired me and try to incorporate those elements into our commercial and video productions at InnerAction Media.

In the last few years, we have seen some really great TV and Internet advertising campaigns, and I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites and what I believe makes them effective:

  • Subaru "Life Story on the Line"
  • HP "Little Moments"
  • Extra Gum "The Story of Sarah and Juan"

Subaru “Life Story on the Line”

I have written about Subaru commercials in the past, and for good reason.  Whether it is the teenage daughter driving alone for the first time  or the “You Never Forget your First Love” commercial, Subaru has mastered the art of tugging at your heartstrings without being too obvious.

Life Story on the Line” is narrated in the first person as viewers follow a woman’s life story.  We see her as a newborn in the winter of ’77, meeting her future husband in the fifth grade, getting married after college and having twin boys. One night, she gets into a bad accident with her two boys, but because of their Forester, their story continued.  

Everything from the cinematic way it was shot to tone of the narration makes it feel like a 30-second film.  And, Subaru is part of the story from the very beginning - first with an early Subaru in ’77, then an old Outback at the wedding scene, and finally the Forester at the crash scene.  At the very end of the commercial, the family is shown driving in a new Forester. In this commercial, Subaru is almost an extended member of the family.

HP “Little Moments”

HP "LITTLE MOMENTS" from Rudi Schwab on Vimeo.

Is it possible to make a tearjerker about a printer? Apparently.

This is the story of a dad whose daughter is about to enter middle school, and she is showing all the signs of a pre-teen. Clearly embarrassed by her dad, she looks horrified when he stands next to her in front of the bathroom mirror. As the mom tries to take a back-to-school photo, the daughter cringes next to her dad and then barely says goodbye to him as she walks off on her own to school.  

When the daughter opens her lunchbox, she finds that her dad had secretly stashed the printout of the photo.  She barely looks at it and quickly tucks it back inside to hide it from her friends. Later that evening, when the family is home and the dad is still feeling ignored by his daughter – he goes into her room and is pleasantly surprised to find years of back-to-school photos taped to the bottom bunk.  A warm smile comes across the dad’s face as he realizes his relationship with his adolescent daughter isn’t as far gone as he thought.

Extra Gum: The Story of Sarah and Juan

Chewing gum wrapper.  Not your typical love story.   

This is the love story of Sarah and Juan.  As the song "Can't Help Falling in Love" plays in the background, we witness their love story that begins as teenagers.  From the moment they locked eyes in high school, to their crush, picnics, prom, fights and long-distance, one thing remains constant between Juan and Sarah - Extra Gum.

Each time Sarah gives Juan a stick of gum, Juan draws on the wrapper afterward. And in a final scene, Juan invites Sarah to a private gallery where a series of Extra chewing gum wrappers adorn the walls. On each of these wrappers is a sketch of all the important moments they’ve shared.  After the final “proposal” sketch, Sarah and Juan fall into each other’s arms and everyone lives happily ever after.

In this ad, Extra managed to turn a gum wrapper into a sweet, sentimental (and essential) part of the story and a souvenir of love.


All of these commercials have a common theme – while yes, there is a product that is being sold, it’s the story around the product that makes us feel emotion.   

One might argue that it’s impossible to feel emotion about an inanimate object – yet, in these stories, it’s the inanimate object that somehow brings people together, makes people feel safe and feel loved. It’s the human connection that is made because of the product that really engages the audience.

When thinking about your own video marketing, it’s really important to have a video production team that can tell your story in a captivating, emotional and memorable way.  Capturing the heart or mind is the most effective way to put your message into someone’s thoughts.

At InnerAction Media, we want to help you to your customer's story. Give us a call: 304-241-4959

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Liza Heiskell

Written by Liza Heiskell

Liza is a graduate of West Virginia University and won a National Daytime Emmy Award in 2006. She has years of experience producing cable and network TV shows in New York City for TLC, Discovery, NBC News and the Fox Broadcasting Network. Upon returning to Morgantown, Liza started Park Street Productions to help business owners share their stories and connect with customers. She recently joined the InnerAction team and looks forward to telling your story. Liza is also a mom, a wife, a part time runner and she has never read a book to which she couldn’t fall asleep.

Topics: Video Marketing, video production