What do brands specifically look for when hiring talent to appear in their commercials? The answer is several things. Some may be obvious but others—which you may feel are inconsequential and irrelevant—can actually be big enough factors that they help determine whether you get the job or not.
First things first, let’s talk about your résumé. In my experience working with countless brands both big and small, your résumé shouldn’t list any commercials you’ve previously booked. Feel free to list the directors you’ve worked with but refrain from including the brand names themselves.
The reason for this is that regardless of whether you booked the job two years ago or 12, there’s the potential that brands will then think you’re “recognizable” and can’t help but associate you with that brand, which may be a competitor. Better to be safe than sorry and remove any brand names from your list of work experience.
Once you get the audition, it’s important to remember that it’s a commercial audition and to treat it differently than you would a theatrical one. What I mean by that is the brand is looking for you to represent them. Learn the type they book by researching the brand, watch their current commercials, and think about the brand’s target audience. The goal is to help the brand envision you in the role whether it’s as simple as wearing the brand’s colors and making sure you’re not wearing the ones of their competitor. This way, when you show up to your audition, you’ll look the part, know the material (if there is any), and bring your personality to the spot. Be the actor they want to work with for the day.
Once the auditions are over, conversations will commence on who to hire. In addition to taking into consideration who is professional, talented, and looks the part, the brand and their ad agency turn to the internet and vet your social media accounts and activity. While you may think your number of followers or engagement rate are the most important things they look for, think again. They’re combing through your social media looking for anything they would consider a red flag. Maybe it’s an image of you drinking at a party, a caption of a joke that gets misconstrued, a highly political statement, or anything that infers drug use (yes, this includes marijuana even though it may be legal in your state). Any of these can take away your consideration in a split second.
Depending on the brand, some may be cool with all or some of the above, but the fact of the matter is that the majority won’t be. If your look skews edgy and alternative, maybe those brands who’d hire you would be ok with that post, caption, or comment. However, if you audition for a traditionally corporate-like Fortune 500 brand, they tend to be more conservative. Also, remember when you posted about a certain cellphone company dropping your calls or that particular airline losing your luggage? These posts will be seen and taken into consideration. Can you imagine if you’re auditioning for that same company and they see you blasting them on social media? You don’t want a brand to take you out of contention because you’re not brand-friendly.
While there are many factors that are out of your control when brands are looking to hire talent, these seemingly small actions and precautions can make all the difference to booking that commercial...or not.
Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s commercial audition listings!
The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.