Do Long Format Digital Films Work – Babita Baruah

Babita Baruah, SVP and Head, PO1 Unit, JWT, Delhi believes it isn't about whether a long duration video works, but whether the piece is captivating enough to retain our increasingly short attention span, across screens.

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Editor’s Note: At LI we are inviting some of the best digital marketing minds of the country to share their opinion on how the market has evolved and the different facets that have attracted or distracted them in 2015. This is the sixth in the series from Babita Baruah, Sr. Vice President and Head, PO1 Unit, J Walter Thompson, Delhi. You can connect with her on Twitter – @babitabaruah (Disclaimer: This piece is the author’s view and has no reflection of the views of her organisation.)

(Click here to find the entire coverage of this year end series)

Possibly, every advertising agency creative person’s wish list, in India at least, includes an opportunity to create a “long format” digital film.

With debates on the average ad duration and the digital medium suddenly throwing up winners both global and local, like Gangnam, Kolaveri D, Back to School, Gharwalli Diwali, Diwali Break from Space and the recent Water Wives and Christmas Spirit, to name a few from the many good ones, this has now become part of most briefs.

The question. Does this work?

Babita_Baruah_JWTI would begin by re-phrasing the question, as I feel that the issue lies in the question itself.

It is not about whether a long duration works, but whether the piece is captivating enough to retain our increasingly short attention span, across screens. To that extent, a 5 seconder can have the same impact as a 10 minute long creation.

I was reading a book on Ted Talks last week.

One of the things that made the sessions stand out followed an Aristotle principle of Ethos, Logos and Pathos. Start with credibility, have an insight or a fact that rings true and evokes emotion. The Pathos quotient is a very critical and a key differentiator, that helps build the logos- the information.

At the heart of it all, therefore, lies the idea. And the expression of the idea.

The duration is the engine that delivers this effectively. More secondage does help a build up, a storyline that reaches a climax, a song that has a meter well beyond the limited 30 second.

The issue is that this sometimes, becomes the starting point of a brief – “Let’s make a long copy ad. Will it be 4 minutes? Why not 6 minutes?”

Arguments emanate on how digital content needs to be viewed differently. There’s more talk on the “long” rather than the “copy”.

In my view and experience, the strength of a digital format lies in the absence of a constraining duration. Those extra ten or fifteen seconds that make creative teams cry in frustration. The director’s reel or cut, as we call it. That is what we should leverage. The final duration will flow naturally from there, if the cap is removed, without defining “long”.

Dig into popular culture, sub cultures, regional nuances, rich insights, audience understanding.

Weave this around the central idea.

Leverage our creativity to give it a compelling pathos.

Look at it from an audience out perspective.

Bear in mind that we are time poor.

This will give the piece a life, long after it is released. Therein lies the power of communication.

Image credit: Mail Online