Inside the Two and Two
Breaking into the Canadian Commercial Industry
By Mary Bonnici
Commercials are everywhere – plastered on the side of buildings, flashing on every screen and tucked between the pages of your favourite magazine. Their slogans instantly grab viewers’ attention. Jingles get stuck in your head and those sales pitches spring to mind when you’re shopping.
It takes more than creativity to fill the minutes between TV shows. Breaking into the commercial industry is not as easy as changing the channel but if you’re lucky it might be your jingle that people can’t forget.
Jana Peck always had a “thing” for great commercials. While studying Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson she decided to take an advertising course.
“Once I realized there was this job called copywriter, I was like, ‘Hey, I would like to do that’,” Peck says.
She put her portfolio together and headed to Toronto’s ad agencies.
Peck, a well respected copywriter, has been working in the business for the last 10 years. She’s learned all the ins and outs of the production process and fell in love with making TV commercials. Sitting in the director’s chair was the next logical step.
She now works with Avion Films, one of the world’s leading commercial film companies. Peck describes her style as “dialogue driven and reality based.” Her creative mind is behind LavaLife’s Where the Girls Are. In the commercial, a young man desperately wants to meet a woman. He hangs out in the most peculiar places, from a baby shower to the line at the women’s washroom, all in an attempt to meet a mate. The slogan is: “There is a better way to meet women.”
Peck’s clever wit and sharp sarcastic humour are evident in her work. You need to be creative, able to handle criticism and hardworking to make it in this industry, Peck says. And with her talent, it’s not surprising she has more than just her foot in the door. But it wasn’t always like that.
“When I started I called all the creative directors and got interviews but never got any jobs because my book sucked.”
Peck stresses your portfolio and demo reel are the keys to getting jobs. They should be your main focus when starting out.
Your portfolio should contain 10 to 15 mock advertisements. Peck doesn’t recommend adding radio or television scripts.
At first “you are not going to be doing any TV spots for a while.” Plus, “it’s never as good on the page as it is once it’s completed.”