How to Write a Treatment for a Commercial

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How to Write a Treatment for a Commercial

Commercials are an integral element to any advertising campaign and they’re increasingly popular . They are found in YouTube videos, on websites, and on a variety of social media platforms including Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn.

A great commercial treatment is going to sell your idea while explaining in key detail just how you intend to sell the client’s product or service to their intended audience.

If you’ve never wrote a commercial treatment before, you might be a little worried, but with some practice you’ll quickly find that learning how to write a treatment for a commercial is about planning the vision for the project, outlining the key story elements that will target the key audience, presenting important points and summarizing the call to action. 

What is a Treatment?

The treatment is essentially a summary of the script.

It includes virtually all of the key details that are important for a television or website commercial advertisement without actually breaking the details down act by act, or word by word.

The result is a document that will range between about 5 and 10 pages, depending on the anticipated commercial length, depicting your creative vision and the parameters within which you intend to produce the commercial.  

Similar to a script, the commercial treatment will help you to establish deep understanding among your audience as to what you’re trying to accomplish with your film, however the treatment is much shorter than the script itself.

What is the story that the commercial will tell?

There is no dialogue nor are all the formatting requirements that are important in a script, required. 

What are the important concepts in the commercial and how do those depict the products or services that we’re advertising?

The treatment helps to establish the vision of the commercial. It will walk the reader through the key points of the commercial – what happens?

What to Include in a Treatment for a Commercial

The commercial treatment is going to include a lot of important information in a clear, easy to follow, formatted structure.

Some parts, such as the introduction and details regarding the production are absolutely vital to the treatment whereas others may or may not be included depending on the individual scenario or circumstances surrounding the production of this particular commercial project. 

Here’s what you want to consider included in your treatment for a commercial advertisement:

  • An introduction that explains who the producer is and why you’re producing the commercial.
  • Some background information about the producer and why this is the right person to tell the story for the brand.
  • Product or service details which highlight what the audience should know about the product, service, or brand.
  • The story as it will be delivered through the commercial. What is the plot and the main concept? How long is the story? What kind of emotional connection are you trying to make with the audience?
  • Will the commercial feature a particular character? Will a famous or well-known actor be cast? 
  • The equipment and gear that is going to be involved in the production? Will corporate professionals tell the story?
  • Budget details including the total cost for number of shoot days as well as key details regarding pertinent post-production processes, rentals or equipment fees, costs for VFX and other expenses. 
  • Final summary of your vision, how you will express the desired commercial story and exactly what it is that makes you the ideal producer for the position. 

Together, all of these parts makeup the ideal commercial film treatment and the individual elements that are going to be vital to selling the brand, their products, or their services to the desired audience.

The commercial treatment should be powerful, informative, and detailed. Your audience should be able to visualize your commercial idea based on the treatment that you share.

How to Write a Treatment for a Commercial

Now that you know what to include, learning how to write a treatment for a commercial is really all a matter of putting it all together in words.

But not just any words! Your treatment has to sell your idea!

Every great commercial treatment is going to include a few important elements including:

  • The personality behind the vision. Your vision is all about your own unique personality. How will you utilize that to share the story of a product or service? Make sure that you include valuable anecdotes of your personality in the work.
  • The thoughts and technical elements that go into the treatment. Be impactful, thoughtful and prepared to help your clients visualize your vision. Set the mood to set the stage for a commercial treatment that sells your idea!
  • Deliver a strong vision that you’re clearly passionate about. If you’re not passionate about it, how do you expect your audience to be passionate about it?
  • A story that represents a valuable asset that the audience can’t help but connect with and to feel connected to. Thread emotion, spark, and spice into the story and build a vision that any audience will find entertaining. 

Now that you know how to write a treatment for a commercial, what steps will you take with your next commercial treatment to improve your process and to deliver your vision to your audience?