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March 11th, 2019

Creatives Have a Love-Hate with Shortform

Creatives have a love-hate relationship with :15s.

Their efficiency and cost allows spots in a campaign to run more frequently for longer flights. And shortform ads 15 seconds and shorter have an element of surprise; usually finishing up their message before the viewer has a chance to skip or fast forward.

But ever-increasing brevity requires discipline.

There are trade-offs. Shorter ad units aren’t good for complicated explaining. And the risk of leaving little room for the brand’s personality to come through looms large. But when done right, shortform can stick in the mind and leave the viewer wanting more. A potent combination for a format that already costs less.

We’ve found 15 seconds is just enough time to dip into a single scene that’s quickly playing out. For Pinch A Penny’s new 2019 campaign, short 15s highlighting our ‘Pool Dad’ character’s enthusiasm for new equipment and accessories comes across with just enough room for the quirky performances.

Montages can work as well. Our festive Florida Lottery campaign used fast moving personality “vignettes” of different holiday types to communicate how holiday scratch-offs are the perfect gift for almost everyone you know.


The shorter format is suited to the topic since people already knew what to do with scratch-offs and the fast-moving montages are built on humorous, somehow-familiar characters.

Even an emotional story-arc is possible. In Indeed.com’s moving :15, ‘The Drop,’ we join a couple’s sad goodbye.. only to end on a sense of hopeful promise.

The spot does a great job with the limited time by letting the VO and the visuals each play a specific and separate role.

But can you go shorter?

Most everyone is familiar with the rise of 6-second preroll bumpers online. These tend to be almost like moving billboards with the brand quickly presented. But a related television format has also emerged that uses a :15 buy split into three :05 mini-ads that run in between the other ads in the break. Royal Caribbean pioneered this “POD takeover” for their ‘come seek’ campaign.


 

The effect when seen live is startling. The viewer begins to anticipate these interruptions. Wanting the current ad to be over to see if there’s another little interstitial treat waiting for them.

We were so inspired by how effective interstitial :05s worked for Royal Caribbean, we converted a series of preroll bumpers to run as a POD takeover for our Pinch A Penny account. Throughout the summer a crusty old Parrot pool float character ran between other ads during Fox sports baseball broadcasts. His one-liners decried the ease of pool care today compared to yesteryear, and each execution was tagged with a product on sale at the stores.

As attention spans continue to shorten, we predict the art and craft of these shorter and shorter bits of film will continue to blossom.