Sandeep Goyal
Oct 03, 2017

Blog: Please don’t give me Five...

Do five-seconder commercials work? In the third part of our series, we bring you a perspective from two creative professionals

Blog: Please don’t give me Five...
Yesterday, the responses of two clients, Rajat Mehta of Yes Bank and Abhiraj Singh Bhal of Urban Clap had focused on emotional vs rational and frequency vs impact; plus nimbleness and content customisation.
Today I share with you the views of two senior creative directors. 
The creative directors seem to have a different take. Glad to bring you their take on the subject. 
Chraneeta Mann, co-founder and creative head, The Mob
It really began in 2008 with an experiment conducted by Dr.Small at UCLA (interesting how his name is strangely relevant to the topic he was scrutinizing). Dr.Small discovered that just 5 hours of viewing the internet could rewire the prefrontal cortex, that deals with short-term memory, galvanizing it into an unprecedented all-cylinders go format! Simply put, the Internet rewired our brains to prefer small, bite sized content, retain less and hop onto the next big thing in the next 5-seconds. It is the ‘frenzy of the fleeting’ – a subject that became part of a somewhat unsettling book called The Shallows. So while one conversation does remain about ‘how media efficient 5-second ads could be’ and how ‘cost-effective for clients’, the simple fact is that this could be THE only way it will be for the next generation. 
Over the last decade we have seen creators flirt with this content, and every year we have conferences and projections of how this will be the year of the ‘Vine video’, or the ‘YouTube 6 second bumper ad’ (which, incidentally, is the ‘format’ for year 2017) so on and so forth. But these innovative short format campaigns remain a tentative experiment in the still traditional world of Indian advertising. You see, while our brains rewired to snackable in just 5 hours according to Dr. Small, that fact is still viewed with suspicion by minds unwilling to bet their money on something that breaks away from the comfort of the 9pm family hour 30 second TV slot. More often than not, we end up with a 5 second edit of a 30 seconder - a mere product window instead of the great stand-alone idea it should have been conceived as. The classic behavior of a parent, one generation behind, who on displaying an understanding of his son’s music, is told that he’s never really gonna get it.
Let’s face it, we need to think bite sized, to really create bite sized. Hard-nosed 5-second ads that really deliver, could still need to be extricated from theory and implemented. Until then, they might remain, for want of a better word, somewhat 'shallow'.
Harish Arora, national creative director, From Here On (FHO)
Please don’t give me five….
Spare a thought or two for the ones who have to deliver these five second epics. Our nation is a land of paradoxes and home to irony. Here ads are often ‘conceptualised in English’, made in Hindi and often dubbed in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and countless other regional languages and with each translations, numbers of words get multiplied.
Culturally for Indians, movie dialogues and easy-on-the-tongue rhymes are easy to imbibe. Here, a ‘Just Do It’, sadly Just Won’t Do It for a consumer, here comparatively while a harder-hitting ‘RED & WHITE PEENE WALON KI BAAT HI KUCH AUR HAI’ will resonate deeper with our audience, it would easily consume a lion share of a 5-sec ad. So coming back to our original 5-second conundrum, regional translations of such lines would easily take 6-8 secs surpassing our proposed 5-sec embargo.
We are a country obsessed with stories, here children are brought up on a steady diet of ‘Kisse Kahaniyan’ by the ever indulgent Dadi’s & Nani’s. No one misses these tales more than children living with their working parents, devoid of these soul nourishing stories. 
Haven’t we all seen Ramayan & Mahabharata countless times? Still, be it smaller cities or the metros people still throng in large numbers to relive the story we have all been brought up on, a story that we all know by heart from the opening act to the curtain call, but one that we can’t get enough of. Simply put, we love watching stories over and over again. 
Let’s take movie channels for example. The number of times the Amitabh Bachan starrer ‘Sooryavansham’ has been played on TV should get an honourable mention in the Guiness Book of World Records. A movie that so often plays on repeat is proof that while we might know the story and the dialogues by heart, we Indians watch great stories with the same intensity and passion as a first time viewer. 
In almost every second episode of ‘KAUN BANEGA CROREPATI’ one of the contestants on the hot seat invariably ends up saying ‘SIR, MAINE AMAR, AKBAR, ANOTHONY… 17 BAAR DEKHI HAI’… or ‘SIR MERE DADA  NE DEWAAR 20 BAAR DEKHI HAI’. 
View it through the proverbial lens of weather or watch it through the filter of emotions, India is a warm country. Even decades later hearing ‘AYE MERE VATAN KE LOGON, ZARA AANKHON ME BHAR LO PAANI’ rarely leaves behind a dry eye. Five-second spots invariably end up being cold in a nation where only emotions and stories appeal to Indian sensibilities. Today it is a never ending battle to adhere to the 30-sec duration. Remember the Google ad about Indian and Pakistani friends. Ask anyone and the answer would be that he could watch it countless times more. While of course the film was longer, and only a 30-40 second edit was played on TV. 
To sum up, in India I can only see 5-second ads on TV as a tactical format for breaking news for eg: introducing new flavours or offers like 50% off. Besides this, anything less than 30-seconds won’t cut through, even if they are –‘Ek THA RAJA, EK THI RANI’ type of ads. 
Chraneeta Mann sees 5-seconders as a mere product window instead of the great stand-alone idea she thinks 30-seconders are. Hard-nosed 5-second ads that really deliver, she thinks, could still be extricated from theory and implemented but the output to her mind would still be somewhat shallow. Harish Arora is very emphatic in his views. To him 5-second ads on TV are at most a tactical format for breaking news, no more.
My view is that creative directors need to be more open minded, more experimentative. The 5-seconder has lots of opportunity that requires both open-mindedness, and open-heartedness. Abhiraj Bhal had in his opinion piece said yesterday that he had created 10 short format ads at Urban Clap from which he eventually double-clicked a couple of the best performing ones to be made into longer versions. I think some such solution may throw up better results than a simple dismissal of the format as a mere blurb on TV. 
Tomorrow, I will bring you views from the world of media. The debate continues….
(Sandeep Goyal encourages debate and discussion in his Blog in Campaign, picking subjects that interest and excite the advertising industry.)

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