TV COMMERCIALS ARE LIKE A DRUNK AT A BAR.

So imagine you’re at a bar and a friend who has had one (or four) too many tells you a short joke. Considering his state of inebriation it’s actually quite funny, everyone has a good laugh. Then, about 30 minutes later he tells the joke again, you know he’s had a few so you let his repetition pass. Then around 25 minutes later he tells it again, and again until finally you shut him down — “We’ve heard it already, six times, what else have you got?

Now imagine, you’re relaxing at home, watching TV and on comes a TV commercial, it’s funny, you have a chuckle to yourself and then it’s back to the show you are watching, and then about 30 minutes later the same commercial comes on, and then it comes on again, and again. By now you’ve had enough and you simply hit the mute button, fast forward through it if you have that option, or get up and hit the kitchen.

Two very similar scenarios where both involve a captive audience, and both are being hit with content they didn’t necessarily ask for, but they didn’t hate it when they first heard or saw it, but it is the repetition that is making it annoying.

Now before I get hate mail I want to make it clear that I love TV commercials, I really do, I spent the vast majority of my advertising career making them, but I don’t want to see one commercial over and over again. When I go to the cinema to watch a movie I don’t walk back in after it’s finished to watch it again, and then again, and again.

Of course, due to the sheer production cost of TV commercials it’s just not viable for brands to make multiple commercials so as to keep the viewing experience fresh.

Plus times, and consumer behavior, have changed greatly. I don’t know about you but I don’t watch television anywhere near the amount I used to. And when I do I have often recorded something and I skip the ads.

But there is an alternative that we all know about but don’t seem to be utilizing well.

Technology has of course changed the playing field, offering up a plethora of new options now being placed in our hands and on our laptops and tablets, all of which are giving users control and choice over the kind of content they watch.

So the onus is now on brands to ensure they are entertaining, engaging, and relevant in all the various mediums that are relevant to the consumers they are targeting.

Instead of buying so much airtime to keep repeating the same TV commercial over and over again, why not channel some of that budget into making a more diverse body of content. All too often content can be seen as an add-on or a poorer cousin to a TV commercial. TV is just part of the content pool now, not the hero, if it is still needed then mix it in with all the other content that would be relevant to the target audience.

All too often you see brands making the mistake of simply running their 30 second TV commercial on mobile or as a pre-roll on YouTube. Please don’t do that. Google recently did a study on this, with BBDO and Mountain Dew, and concluded it doesn’t work. No surprises there. You can read about it here. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/experiments/mobile-video-advertising-making-unskippable-ads.html

Platforms such as Vine, Snapchat, Periscope, Meerkat, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube all require a different approach and thinking. You can still have the same ‘idea’, you just need to re-think how the idea or story is told.

The content needs be written, crafted and tailored for different viewing experiences and it needs to have context.

How you approach Snapchat will be different to what you do on Vine, and what you do on Instagram will be different to what you do on Facebook, and Periscope is once again different to YouTube.

To further push my point about the repetitiveness of TV commercials just look at the meteoric growth of Snapchat, here is an app that people aged 18–34 are going mad for, and the biggest part of the app is that the video disappears, it’s not a monotonous replay. You keep seeing fresh content.

Here are some sobering Snapchat facts:

· 100 million daily active users.

· 700 million photos and videos sent per day.

· Percentage of college students who use Snapchat daily: 77%.

· Percentage of Snapchat user under the age of 34: 71%.

· Snapchat Stories content viewed 500 million times per day.

There are many more stats to share but you get the idea. What the Snapchat case shows is the shift in consumer behavior and how people are consuming content differently. And this is just on one of the platforms available.

Sure there is content being made out there for brands, but is it really being approached in the right way?

I’ve had conversations recently with FMCG/CPG brand managers who said they are looking for the answer of how to better implement digital content and brand storytelling across multiple platforms, devices, and screens.

To me, this presents us all with a wide-open opportunity for some fresh, new thinking. But we also have to re-think the production side of things. If you want to make a diverse array of content for multiple platforms you can’t approach it the same way you do a TV commercial. You wont be able to afford a cast of thousands on set, there will be a need for more hands-on, roll up your sleeves, guerrilla filmmaking approaches to making some of the content.

But again, in my books that’s fine. Not everything needs to be shot on the latest HD camera rig. The consumer is not analyzing the screen quality of a lot of this content, they are focused on the idea — the creators of the content should be too.

When I started in this business we were locked into usually either a 30 second TV commercial with a 15 second cut-down or if you were lucky a 60 second. But now the floodgates have opened and you can let the creative juices go wild. To me this is a much more exciting time to be doing what we do.

So, while I have a captive audience…did you hear the one about the horse that walked into a bar? The bartender said — “Why the long face”. (Boom-Tish) I’ll be here all night folks; but I promise I will only tell that joke once.

© Rodd Chant 2015

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