The Role of Location in TV Advertising Production

Oct 13, 2023 / Industry Insights / FOTW


Picture this: you’re walking through the bustling streets of London, surrounded by classic architecture and the ceaseless hum of activity. This vibrant scene sparks a creative idea for a commercial that could perfectly embody the essence of your brand. This moment of inspiration illuminates location’s integral role in TV advertising production. Picking the right location can bring a story to life, giving the commercial a more real feel and a unique look.

Venture a little deeper, and you’ll discover that the choice of location extends beyond aesthetic appeal and has a practical facet. Different locales have varied production costs, local regulations and logistical challenges. For instance, filming in a bustling city might provide a rich, urban backdrop, but it also brings with it higher costs and logistical hurdles. Hence, deciding where to film is nuanced and intertwined with creative and practical considerations that can significantly impact TV advertising production.

As you explore this article, we hope you understand how location choice can make or break a TV advertising campaign.


The Power of Location in TV Ad Production

The essence of a powerful TV advertisement often lies in its ability to transport viewers to different places, times or even states of mind. The carefully selected locales form the fabric of a narrative, their every nuance adding layers to the story. With the right location, a simple concept can morph into a persuasive narrative that resonates with audiences profoundly.

Let’s take a deeper look at how location has such a big impact on commercial production:


The psychological impact of location on viewers

Different settings evoke varied emotions and reactions, an aspect that’s leveraged to craft messages that strike a chord. A bustling cityscape might evoke feelings of excitement or aspiration, while a serene countryside could elicit a sense of peace or nostalgia. For instance, a commercial showcasing a family enjoying a peaceful retreat in a rustic cabin can evoke feelings of warmth and desire for closeness, playing into the viewers’ yearning for togetherness and tranquillity.

Moreover, familiarity can foster viewer trust and relatability. Seeing known landmarks or local settings in an advertisement can create a sense of connection and authenticity. It says, “This brand understands my world.” This familiarity can breed a level of comfort and trust towards the brand, making the advertisement more effective.


Setting the mood and atmosphere

The environment within which an advertisement is set goes a long way in establishing the ad’s tone. A luxurious mansion could set a tone of sophistication and opulence for a high-end product, while a cosy home setting might convey warmth and reliability, making it suitable for family-oriented products.

Several successful ads have leveraged the power of location to set the desired mood. Consider the cinematic Apple commercials, where sleek, minimalist spaces mirror the brand’s design ethos, creating a mood of modernity and innovation. Conversely, a brand like Coca-Cola often uses vibrant and bustling settings to echo its energetic and joyful personality.

The advertisement’s mood aligns with the message through careful location selection, ensuring a cohesive and engaging viewer experience. This alignment enriches the narrative and fortifies the brand message, demonstrating location’s undeniable influence in TV advertising production.


Studios vs Outdoor Locations for TV Advertising

The decision between shooting in a studio or on location is a crucial fork in the road for any TV advertising production project. Each path comes with its unique set of advantages and challenges that can significantly influence the outcome of the commercial. Learning the specifics of each can equip you with the knowledge to make an informed decision that aligns with your advertising campaign’s creative and practical aspects.


For a controlled and consistent shoot

Stepping into a studio, you find yourself in a realm where every element is under control, from lighting and sound to the backdrop. Studios are akin to blank canvases, offering a controlled environment where creativity can be orchestrated down to the last detail.

Pros of using a studio

  • Controlled Lighting: In a studio setting, lighting conditions are meticulously controlled to achieve the desired effect. This is invaluable in ensuring consistency throughout the shoot, especially in scenes requiring precise lighting setups. Furthermore, unlike outdoor shoots, you don’t have to contend with the changing natural light, which can be a significant advantage when shooting over multiple days or during different times of the day.
  • Sound Control: Studios are designed to keep out unwanted noise, providing a pristine audio recording environment. This level of sound control is crucial when conveying clear audio messages or when the script requires crisp sound quality. Additionally, any required audio effects or background music can be managed and adjusted in real time, providing a sound clarity that outdoor settings often cannot match.
  • Controlled Environment: The controlled environment of a studio ensures that weather changes or other external variables won’t disrupt the shooting schedule. This level of control extends to other aspects, such as temperature and wind, which can be significant factors when considering the comfort and safety of the cast and crew. Moreover, the controlled environment allows for a level of precision in scene setup and execution that is often necessary to align with the brand’s advertising vision.


Cons of using a studio

  • Lack of Authenticity: Studios often lack real-world ambience and feel, resulting in scenes feeling staged or artificial. This lack of authenticity might not resonate well with audiences seeking a genuine connection with the narrative or the brand. Moreover, creating realistic sets can be challenging and may not always capture the intended atmosphere or emotion.
  • Limited Space: Studios have defined space limitations that can restrict the scenes’ scope and creativity. This restriction might necessitate compromises in the narrative or visual elements of the advertisement. Furthermore, conveying expansive or grand visuals can be challenging within the confines of a studio.
  • Higher Costs: Building sets, managing lighting and controlling every environmental aspect can significantly escalate costs. These costs might include renting the studio space, constructing sets and employing a larger crew to manage the controlled environment. Additionally, the time required to set up and break down sets can extend the shooting schedule, further elevating the costs.


For authenticity and realism

Venturing outside the studio, the world becomes your stage. The authentic backdrop, natural lighting and spontaneous interactions with the environment can add a layer of realism to your TV advertisement that is challenging to replicate in a studio.

Pros of shooting outdoors

  • Natural Lighting: The appeal of natural lighting is unparalleled as it can enhance the aesthetic appeal of the advertisement in a way artificial lighting often can’t mimic. The changing light conditions throughout the day can provide a unique and authentic visual appeal. Moreover, natural lighting can infuse a level of realism into the narrative, making the scenes more relatable and engaging.
  • Authentic Backdrops: Real-world settings provide authentic backdrops that add credibility and resonance to the narrative. These natural backdrops can evoke emotions and connect with audiences on a deeper level. Furthermore, outdoor settings provide an endless variety of landscapes and urban scenes, which can significantly enrich visual storytelling.
  • Dynamic Interactions: Shooting outdoors provides opportunities for dynamic interactions with real-world elements. Whether it’s an unplanned interaction with passersby or how the wind interacts with the scene, these organic elements can add a unique flavour to the advertisement. Moreover, such unscripted interactions can introduce a level of spontaneity that might resonate well with audiences, making the advertisement feel more genuine and less staged.


Cons of shooting outdoors

  • Unpredictable Lighting: The shifting sunlight and changing weather conditions can pose challenges in maintaining consistent lighting. This unpredictability can disrupt the shooting schedule and may require additional equipment or post-production adjustments to achieve the desired lighting effect. Moreover, the limited window of optimal natural light can pressure the crew to complete the shots within a constrained timeframe.
  • Noise Control: Unexpected noise from traffic, people or other environmental factors can disrupt audio recording. This lack of control over the sound environment may necessitate extensive post-production sound editing or even re-shooting scenes. Additionally, it can be challenging to capture clean audio, which is crucial for conveying the advertisement’s message clearly.
  • Weather Dependency: Outdoor shooting schedules might be disrupted by unfavourable weather conditions such as rain, wind or extreme temperatures. These disruptions can delay the project and escalate costs. Moreover, unforeseen weather changes can pose safety risks to the cast and crew, as well as affect the scenes’ quality and consistency.


How Location Elevates Storytelling in TV Advertising

The essence of a memorable TV advertisement often transcends the mere presentation of a product or service — it tells a story. Location is a powerful tool in one’s storytelling arsenal, setting the stage for narratives that resonate with audiences. The choice of location can subtly, yet profoundly, influence the audience’s engagement with the advertisement’s narrative. 

Let’s explore how location is instrumental in elevating storytelling within the realm of TV advertising.


1. Building relatability through familiar scenery

Recognisable locations often serve as an anchor, forging a connection between the advertisement and the audience. When viewers spot familiar scenery, a bridge is built, which often leads to a higher level of engagement with the ad. This familiarity can evoke a sense of nostalgia or belonging, enriching the narrative being portrayed.

The influence of cultural and regional settings cannot be underestimated as well. They bring a layer of contextual relevance that can be very impactful. For instance, an ad for a local brewery might resonate more when set against the backdrop of well-known local landmarks or landscapes, subtly reinforcing the brand’s local roots and values.


2. Transporting the audience to exotic and unique locations

Unique or exotic locales can create a sense of wonder and intrigue, captivating audiences with a taste of the unfamiliar. Such locations enthral viewers, transporting them to a different place, even if just for a few moments. This transportation can evoke emotions or associations that enhance the advertisement’s narrative.

Some advertisements have effectively leveraged offbeat locations to etch a lasting impression in the viewers’ minds. For instance, an advertisement showcasing a car manoeuvring through the rugged terrains of Iceland or the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast both highlights the vehicle’s capabilities and leaves the audience with awe-inspiring visuals that linger.


3. Creating dynamic spaces

Locations with moving elements, such as trains or elevators, introduce a layer of dynamism to the narrative. They symbolise motion, change or progress, which can be emblematic of the brand’s message. Similarly, transitional spaces like airports or bridges can embody journeys, change or transitions, resonating with viewers on a metaphorical level.

For instance, a narrative that unfolds on a moving train can portray a journey towards achieving a goal, mirroring the brand’s ethos of progress and momentum. Such dynamic spaces add a visual and symbolic richness to the advertisement’s narrative.


4. Locations as characters

In some memorable TV advertisements, locations transition from being mere backdrops to characters in their own right. They interact with the main characters, influence the narrative and sometimes even drive the plot forward. A city’s bustling market or a serene lakeside can embody themes or emotions, adding depth and layers to the main plot.

For instance, an ad set in the heart of Paris might leverage the city’s romantic aura to tell a compelling story about a jewellery brand. Here, the city isn’t just a location; it’s a character that enriches the narrative, making the storytelling multidimensional and engaging.


Things to Consider When Making the Right Location Choice

Setting the stage for an effective TV ad creation starts with choosing the right location. It has the power to accentuate the ad’s message, resonate with the target audience and create a lasting impression. However, the journey to making an optimal location choice entails a blend of creative, logistical and ethical considerations. 

Let’s look at some of the critical factors that can guide this pivotal decision.


Understanding the ad’s core message

At the heart of every successful advertisement is a clear, compelling message. The choice of location should be in harmony with this message, embellishing the narrative rather than distracting from it. It’s vital to ensure that the location complements the ad’s objectives, creating a seamless meld between the narrative and the backdrop.

Preliminary research and scouting are indispensable steps in aligning the location with the ad’s narrative. These initial stages provide a glimpse into how well the location fits the narrative and what adjustments might be needed to ensure a perfect alignment. For instance, scouting can unveil how the natural lighting at a particular outdoor location interacts with the camera or how crowded a popular landmark might be during the shooting.


Budget Considerations & logistics

While an exotic or picturesque location might seem like the perfect choice, budget constraints can often bring us back to earth. Balancing the aspiration for a dream location with the realities of production costs is a nuanced dance that could significantly impact the overall project.

Logistical challenges are another facet that needs thorough examination. Accessibility, availability of amenities and the ease of transporting equipment and crew are just a few logistical considerations that could affect the choice of location. For example, a remote mountainous location might offer breathtaking visuals, but the challenges in accessibility and the cost of transporting equipment could be prohibitive.


Legal and ethical aspects

Navigating the legal landscape is crucial when selecting a location. Acquiring the necessary permissions, adhering to local regulations and ensuring all legal boxes are ticked is paramount to avoid any unwarranted hiccups during production.

Moreover, respecting local norms and sensitivities is an ethical obligation. This respect extends to understanding the cultural significance of potential locations, especially when considering shooting in sensitive areas such as houses of worship or historical sites. For instance, a lack of understanding or disregard for local customs and regulations could not only halt production but also tarnish the brand’s image.


Final Thoughts

Every intricate aspect of TV advertising production has the potential to amplify the impact of your advertising campaign significantly — location included. The journey encompasses understanding the core message of the ad, balancing budget and logistical realities and adhering to legal and ethical standards. The choice between a studio setup or an outdoor location, the power of familiar versus exotic locales and the ability of a location to become a character in the narrative are all pivotal considerations that shape the storytelling and, ultimately, the audience’s connection to the brand.

Making informed, strategic decisions in location selection is crucial for anyone looking to create a TV advertising campaign. The right location can be a catalyst, transforming a good advertisement into a memorable, effective one. If you want to harness the power of impactful storytelling through well-curated location choices in your next TV advertising campaign, consider partnering with our highly experienced TV advertising agency. Give us a ring, and let’s see how we can help you craft compelling narratives that resonate with your audience and amplify your brand’s message.


More TV Advertising Guides