The other day, a pitch brief landed on my desk. After the brief specified a clear business problem to solve, a strong brand direction and a target to address, then came the list of requirements: "Idea should work as a 15" and a 30 TVC". Pretty standard really. Except that nowadays, it shouldn’t be.
Not ten years ago, we were slaves to the 30" TV spot. Media and budget requirements dictated the length of a TVC and 30" gave you just enough time to tell a story, convey the product benefits, give a brand POV and not leave the viewer bored.
But it was a comforting sort of slavery, because once it aired, you could be sure your target market was watching and your point was getting across.
Enter YouTube and the freedom to go beyond half a minute. But along with it came a whole other layer of complexity that we’d never had to deal with – virality, view skippers, ad-blockers, paid vs organic views.
As the 30" fell, an even bigger problem arose – what should take its place?
The knee-jerk reaction has often been to go shorter – to make things "unskippable". Media pressure and our hectic world has led brands to feel like everything needs to be faster thus shorter. This works, to some degree – a recent study from Google shows that the 15" is great for creating ad recall – but it’s the most skipped film format and the least effective in generating brand favorability.
I’m not here to give a definitive answer (there isn’t one), but I am here to defend a point of view. The length of a TV ad doesn’t matter – it’s about how good your idea is.
Want proof? The average length of the most popular feature films on IMDB has gone up by 15 minutes in the past 20 years. Nike’s "The Switch" for the Euro 2016 tournament clocks in at a hefty 5:46 mins and yet, because of their reputation for quality content, four days in it’s already racked in a ludicrous 27 million views.
This isn’t limited to just big-name brands – despite being 5:16 mins long, Momondo’s ad has garnered around 5 million views in a week, most of which are organic.
Don’t be apologetic about the length of your script – make good ideas breathe and take form.
Let TVCs be as long as they need to be.
And please, don’t let a client brief constrain you to 30" before you’ve even come up with an idea.
You can always do a cut-down, if need be...
Bruno Bertelli is the global creative chief of Publicis Worldwide.