The power of brevity in the age of no limits

Added on by Leon Jacobs.

Advertising creatives got stuck with the 30" format because that was the duration that media companies could most easily sell airtime. Over the last few decades, generations of copywriters and art directors got really good at telling neat little stories in half a minute.

The new generation of advertising creative can now tell stories online. The 30" format is no longer that much of an issue. A few brands have started producing short films and broadcasting them online. Look at this new effort for Audi, featuring "old" Spock (Leonard Nimoy) versus "new" Spock (Zachary Quinto). The idea is quite lovely, but it rambles on. I wonder how much better it would have been if it was half that length. Or even 40%.

Because the fact is - longer is not always better. Brevity always trumps verbosity.

Any good creative worth their salt know that the simplest, quickest edits of their ads rank superior when you compare them side-by-side with either longer, or more complicated cuts. "Agency cuts", or "director's cuts", that are different to broadcast versions just because they are longer, are very rarely better if truth be told.

Last year I watched a candidate reel for the Saatchi New Director's Showcase and was amazed that almost 90% of the films on there were longer than 90". There were only two 30" films and they were the best by a country mile - judging by the reaction in the room.

A new generation of advertising storytellers will have to learn this lesson all on their own - without the 30" media obstruction we grew up with. 

And for the sake of quality storytelling, I hope they do.