As the senior copywriter for the Air National Guard, I had the pleasure of writing several national television commercials. ‘Born For This’ was the last commercial that I wrote and it only took a solid fifteen minutes (while the first took quite an effort). Here’s the entire learning curved boiled down to five simple steps guaranteed to help you write a commercial if you only have a smoke break to spare.

  1. Dress casually. No commercial or challenging creative undertaking can break through the constraints of a suit in fifteen minutes. You are the medium, so be comfortable. My preferred garment in brainstorms is a hoodie.
  2. Allocate 15 minutes and no more. If necessary, validate your hard stop with another meeting that you also don’t have time for. Don’t allow yourself an entire day, weeks, or months to come up with a solid commercial idea. The restraint boosts creativity.
  3. Don’t worry about credit. It doesn’t matter if your colleagues throw out similar ideas. It doesn’t matter if someone says something that you already wrote down. Treat it as a confirmation of your genius or, even better, as an indication of the group’s synergy. Nitpicking over whose idea something was is a waste of resources.
  4. Go with a simple two-column script. I was writing for film and television because that’s the language the executives in charge spoke at my agency. Unfortunately, it allowed for way too much granular nitpicking at inconsequential details. Once I was rewriting version number fourteen of a script only for the client to approve the fourth revision to the third script. I knew there had to be a better way and the answer inevitably revealed itself as two simple columns. On one side, you write what the audience sees. On the other you write what they hear and line it up/space it out accordingly.
  5. Accept that change is coming. The script is just a blueprint ushering an idea into the real world. Once it materializes it is nearly guaranteed to change over the course of a production. For proof, check out this early version of the original script:

This was enough to get the concept across and buy more time to fix the copy, which eventually became:

Born For This

You were born a different breed. Curiosity is your birthright- and that’s why you tinker. You’re driven to learn, fix, and rebuild. You’re destined to make metal fly. By becoming a Maintainer in the Air National Guard, you’ll be equipped with the training and in-demand skills… to push metal to the limit and save lives. You were born for this. Become a Maintainer and let’s see what our hands build together.