JCU Logo


COURSE NAME: "Promotional Videos"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Chloe Barreau
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W 12:30-3:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: COM 230 or permission of the instructor
OFFICE HOURS: Wednesday 3pm - 4 pm

This course introduces students to the strategic, conceptual, creative, and technical aspects of promotional videos (teasers, promos, trailers, campaigns, sales reels, and spots). It provides a basic understanding of the various short formats produced in TV and Web communication. The aim is to study common procedures and to get hands-on experience making promos, including how to hook a viewer, how to reach a target, how to engage an audience, and most of all, how to sell a story. This course offers an intensive overview of the entire production process in promo production, including activities like researching, creating a concept pitch/brief, editing, and post-production. The class will feature screenings, exercises, in-class assignments, editing sessions, voiceover recording sessions, and group projects. In order to participate, students will be expected to have a basic understanding of the skills and concepts involved with video editing, audio recording, and mixing.

Today’s short attention spans of the audience require quick, clever branding. In the era of fast communication, networks are rushing to engage consumers through entertaining, shareable, efficient branded promos. Most of the time, 30 seconds is all you got. How can you drive viewers to watch a program? What works? Why does it work?
We will share examples of the most effective branded communication from past years and examine the best practices that made them so successful. We’ll look at some of the industry’s greatest brand strategies and immerse ourselves into exciting case studies, such as classical branded campaigns from The National Geographic Channel or innovative HBO network spots. We will explore how they are developed and why they connect with audiences. 

In addition to examining case-studies, students will create a variety of promotional videos from pre-existing audiovisual footage (television programs, TV series, films) and will be introduced to the principles and technologies of logging, editing, copywriting, audio recording, mixing, and scheduling. The course alternates weekly screenings and seminars and includes Final Cut Pro / Premiere editing and voiceover recording sessions spread throughout the semester. The class will mostly be a project-based learning environment offering practical skills to prepare students for further study in creative communication, digital production, as well as professional careers in TV, web, advertisement industries.

Since it deals with many Marketing issues, this course is open to Marketing and/or Communications students (with permission), as long as they are motivated and willing to learn the basics of editing and ready to team-up with students who has followed the COM 230 module.

This course will answer some of the questions asked about promo-producing:

·      What exactly does brand/grid/highlight/stunt/tagline/claim mean in the TV business?

·      How do you effectively and efficiently “sell” a program to an audience?

·      How do you follow a brief and yet remain creative and open-minded?

·      How do you log a program and chose the parts to highlight?

·      How do you conduct creative research? How do you get an idea?

·      How do you pitch your idea and persuade the programming and marketing department that it will work and be effective?


This course aims to provide students an understanding on how to create promotional videos for maximum audio-visual emotional impact and the skills necessary to produce them.

Upon completing of the course, students will be able to:

·      Understand the role and basic rules of on-air promotion.

·      Conduct creative research.

·      Learn the art of synthesis (“less is more”).

·      Generate copy, ideas and concepts that best meet the brief and schedule.

·      Ensure output is highly targeted to the local audience and respects brand values.

·      Understand how to write an effective audio script.

·      Oversee all the steps of the production workflow: creative research, copywriting, music consulting, editing, voiceover (VO) recording, sound design & graphic identity.

·      Direct live action shoots when appropriate, as well as edits, VO and audio sessions.


·      Copywriting skills, creative judgment, interest in current media trends.        

·      Strategic thinking about promotional communication.

·      Planning and practical skills to manage projects.

·      Knowledge of production processes, tools and techniques.

·      Ability to work in a creative team within given budget and timeline.

·      Communication skills and ability to be persuasive at various levels.


Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
STORYROBERT MCKEEHarperCollins9780060391683  
ParticipationUnderstanding of the basic rules of on-air communication / Ability to search for references 15%
Assignments x 4This will be the collection of the in-class exercises during the weeks of preproduction. Theoretical approach / Synthesis capacity / TV and film culture. 15%
Final exam EDITING : Creative use of music / Effective pacing / Sound and visual coordination / Overall aesthetic appeal and efficiency. SOUND : Appropriate music and sound levels / Ability to direct a VO speaker / Appropriate Sound effects and mix. 25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


This course requires a significant amount of work to be completed outside of class hours.
No personal computer or smartphone use will be authorized in class.
To encourage creative writing, students will be invited to take notes manually.                                                                                                              Due to the once a week meeting schedule for the course, missing one class can mean missing out on a major technical or conceptual lesson plan, which can affect the qualty of your projects. Three late arrivals (more than 10 minutes) are counted as one unexcused absence. Two unexcused absences will result in a full letter drop in the final grade and three unexcused absences will result in failure. In the case of excused absences due to documented illness of familyemergencies, please e-mail me and present a Dean's note asap.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Weeks 1-3: Fundamentals.

Intro to promotional communication

Screenings / discussions

How to promote an event: one-of / generic promo / brand promo / stunt promo

360° Campaign - print / on-air / web

Strategic aspects of on-air communication

Less is more, the art of synthesis

Weeks 4-5: Case Study

Screening: National Geographic Global Campaigns

Trailers and Brand campaign analysis

How to pitch a project: viewing of TV series “Mad Men” selected scenes

Size matters: From 10’’ brand shorts to 3’ show trailers, which length works better?

Emotional engagement

Weeks 6-8: Creative Prep

Viewing / log exercises: selection of scenes and soundbites from a program

Creative research, looking for ideas and references

Music research (commercial music / library music)

Writing exercises: how to write a short effective script

Homework: create the tagline for a new channel

In-class assignment: pitch an idea to the creative director

Weeks 9-11:

Preparing a budget/schedule, coordinating the various figures (editor, sound designer, speaker, graphic designer)

Homework: produce a detailed production make list

Shooting exercises (spot)

In-class assignment: Direct a spot to promote JCU 

Week 12-14: Post-Production

Editing exercises: organizing and selecting footage, cutting music, .

Sound exercises: cleaning up audio, VO recording sessions, sound effects design; mixing

In-class assignment: Cut a 1 minute spot

Final screening of finished projects


SessionSession FocusReading AssignmentOther AssignmentMeeting Place/Exam Dates
CLASS 1TV IS DEAD. LONG LIVE TV! - How to use this class - Introduction to promotional communication - STATE OF THE BUSINESS: the TV industry crisis MEDIA SATURATION / THE POWER OF PARATEXT - WHAT IS A TV PROMO? Screenings -    
CLASS 2ANATOMY OF A PROMO - NEW KEY PROMO TRENDS: The various ways to promote an event - PROMO TRICKS AND MISTAKES - SIZE MATTERS: From 10’’ brand shorts to 3’ show trailers, which length works better? - WHERE NEXT FOR PROMOS? Screenings / Discussions.  Homework assignment: Project 1  
CLASS 3CASE STUDY: TIME TO REBRAND - What is branding? When is a Rebrand necessary? 360° BRAND CAMPAIGN - print / on-air / web Trailers, Graphic package and tagline analysis Project 1 feedback  
CLASS 4THE PROMO PRODUCTION PROCESS - What does a promo producer do for a living? - Working in TV: various departments and workflows - Preparing a budget/schedule, coordinating the various figures - Editor, sound designer, speaker, graphic designer - In class exercise: produce a detailed production make list Homework Assignment: Project 2  
CLASS 5EDITING: CUTTING IN TEMPO - The basics of Editing (Continuity editing / Emphatic editing) Being a commercial promo editor: How to go about creating your first cut. How to synthesize footage into manageable selects, and how to structure your cut. Editing exercises: organizing and selecting footage, cutting music. Project 2 feedback Homework Assignment: Project 3  
CLASS 7THE TROUBLE WITH CREATIVITY - A CREATIVE CHRONOLOGY - Lateral Thinking / Emotional engagement SOMETHING FOR NOTHING - In class creative exercises Project 3 feedback   
CLASS 8 PRE-PRODUCTION - Creative research, looking for ideas and references Music research (commercial music / library music) Viewing / log exercises: selection of scenes and soundbites CREATIVE PROCESS CASE STUDIES In class exercises  Homework Assignment: Project 4 
CLASS 9 LESS IS MORE, THE ART OF COPYWRITING - THE ART OF SYNTHESIS - SHORT STORYTELLING - Screenings / Discussions Writing exercises: how to write a short effective script   
CLASS 10 HOW TO PITCH AN IDEA - How to pitch a project: a quick look into creative agency processes “Mad Men” selected scenes: Screenings / Discussions In-class exercise: present an idea to the creative director Project 4 feedback Homework Assignment: Project 5  
CLASS 11 THE SOUND OF BALANCE - The importance of SOUND DESIGN - MASTERING THE VOICE-OVER SESSION Screenings / Discussions Sound exercises: cleaning up audio, VO recording sessions, sound effects design; mixing    
CLASS15Final screening of finished projects    
CLASS 6 STATE OF OUR ART - A quick look into different promotional communication genres. ADVERTISEMENT and MOVIE TRAILERS. AD COMPILATION: Screenings / Discussions. CASE STUDY: THE REVENANT 1 MOVIE, 5 PROMOS