Commercial Auditions are much different than film or television auditions. The etiquette is the same; show up fifteen to thirty minutes before your scheduled time, act polite and professional. But to get the most exposure in the commercial world one should have a commercial agent who specializes in casting for advertisers.
The process starts with your agent or a casting director contacting you. They will be very vague on the description of the character needed for the commercial, but your look is what they are trying to find, so be confident in that.
The casting agent will give you a few words on what kind of character you will be auditioning for is like, “casual, hip, mother.” From there you will determine what to wear to the audition relying on what you think portrays a casual, hip, mother (or whatever they are requesting). An agent’s advice is great for this. But the goal is to be comfortable.
The most important thing to know when going on auditions for commercials is you are selling something. Though you may be playing a character, that character needs to seem natural, so the viewer buys in to the advertisement. The actor is the advertisers vehicle to sell a product. Think of yourself as a theatrical salesman.
Commercial auditions are usually a little looser than movie or TV auditions. There are often many people auditioning together, especially if the commercial calls for a group of friends hanging out, and a casting director wants to see different combinations of people.
When you arrive, you will meet with a casting assistant and fill out a card with your name, measurements, special skills and hat size. As always, be polite and cooperative to any casting directors or agents.
Your audition can be a wide range of performances. A lot of times, a casting director will put you in groups to perform improv (improvisation) to get a feel for every ones personality.
When you audition alone, there are two kinds of performances depending on the commercial. There is the character performance and the salesman performance. The salesman performance is for a commercial that has the subject talk directly to the camera. Like a Mom telling the camera how absorbent Bounty Paper Towels are. The character performance is where the subjects in the commercial are seen through the camera as subjects, like three guys going into a bar to drink Miller Lite. Character performers usually don’t look at the camera.
Depending on the audition, you may have to perform both styles. Just be you when auditioning. Advertisers want to see actors that portray real people, because it is the real people that will hopefully be buying their product. If you over act, it will seem unnatural. They already like your look, so keep being yourself, and hopefully your performance will shine through.