Television commercials have traditionally averaged a length of 30 seconds. But advertising slots on TV channels have become so crowded and repetitive that to many TV watchers they have become an annoying disruption of their viewing pleasure.
Thirty seconds is not enough time to create a message of compelling interest for modern-day viewers. To break through the commercial clutter requires creativity and engaging storytelling.
This has seen a substantial rise in longer commercials. It has also seen the development of the ‘mini-movie’ commercial running to several minutes and in same cases even to over 20 minutes in length.
A ‘mini-movie’ commercial is essentially a short film with a plot that makes for rewarding viewing.
YouTube and Cable Television
YouTube and cable television have changed traditional viewing patterns and viewer gratification demands.
It is also so much easier for companies to air their commercials online without the hassle of negotiating specific time slots with TV channels and then being bundled together with several other commercials by brands that have chosen in the same broadcast times.
Furthermore, commercials can be any desired length the story lines require.
A matter of choice
On YouTube viewers have the choice of whether they want to watch a commercial or not. If a commercial does grab the interest of a viewer the chances are good that it will be shared and it may even go viral which essentially means much free brand publicity.
On cable television movies on demand can be viewed at a time of choosing and are shown uninterrupted without commercial breaks every 15 minutes. ‘Mini-movie’ commercials are part of the available entertainment and are often more compelling than the featured movie.
One notable example of engaging ‘mini-movie’ storytelling and dramatic plot development is BMW’s highly successful ‘The Hire’ series by top film directors and featuring a cast of movie-stars that has garnered more than 10 million online views.
1. BMW, The Escape
Agency: Geisel Productions
Directed by Neill Blomkamp this most recent addition to the BMW ‘The Hire’ series, won Best of Show at the One Screen Film Festival awards in New York.
The ‘mini-movie’ commercial features a BMW 540i M Sport and stars Clive Owen (as the driver for hire), Jon Bernthal, Dakota Fanning and Vera Farmiga.
2. Johnnie Walker Blue Label, The Gentleman’s Wager
Advertising Agency: Anomaly, New York
Filmed on location in the British Virgin Islands and London and directed by Jake Scott the commercial stars Jude Law and Giancarlo Giannini as the two protagonists engaged in a gentleman’s wager.
The commercial motivated 45 million online views and was shared 120,000 times on social media. A remarkable achievement for a premium priced, niche brand that resulted in a 41% increase in sales.
3. Johnnie Walker Blue Label, The Gentleman’s Wager II
This sequel ‘mini-movie’ is over 11 minutes long, nearly double the length of the first commercial but once again online viewers were enthralled and social media was abuzz with ‘shares’ and favourable comment.