Paul Shearer reflects on how the gift of time can take an ad from good to great
I was looking at a brief the other day and it stated, very clearly, that the time length was 7 seconds—the norm these days.
It also stated clearly the need for an engaging idea that drives sales and will win at Cannes.
Big ask in such a short time.
Funnily enough, it takes 7 seconds to read that sentence.
Ok, I know that’s the name of the game these days, but I kind of miss having time to tell a story, and I think it's time it came back into fashion.
7 seconds is good for a knock-knock joke or an epic fail clip, but the art of great storytelling needs time.
Time gives you a chance to draw the viewer in; make you think one thing, then another; to leave you on the edge of your seat, and to make you fall in love with the product - and the brand.
Guinness Surfer, Levi's Drugstore, BBC’s Perfect Day and Nike Good vs Evil are just a few of so many great films that do just this—mini-movies with mesmerizing storytelling.
When I was a youngster, I was lucky enough to experience, for myself, what time can give a great story.
It all started with a few people who have always given time to young, eager creatives—the extraordinary Laura Gregory and the founders of Guess Jeans, the Marciano brothers.
They wanted a 5 minute on-screen fashion statement and Laura was tasked with that opportunity.
My partner Rob and I pitched an idea called 'Cheat' about a Private Eye character who specialized in testing the fidelity of would-be husbands for their wives-to-be.
The Private Eye was hired by beautiful women to see if the chosen partner would stray.
Laura loved it and sold it in.
We got lucky that day.
5 minutes of lucky.
We used to get 30 seconds so 10 times that was a rare chance to be part of something special.
Harry Dean Stanton, Juliette Lewis, Traci Lords and Peter Horton were signed up, and the award-winning and immensely talented Andy Morahan directed.
What they did was produce a stunning film that helped the brand take off and won a bunch of awards, including 4 Yellow D&AD pencils.
Apart from more time equals more wow, I learned something crucial on that project.
When you have a story worth telling, everyone involved goes that extra mile.
You get excited about everything—the cast, the wardrobe, the music. Everything feels worth doing that bit better.
So, what am I saying?
Could a 7 second film do all that?
Honestly, I don’t think so.
It doesn’t mean you can’t do something captivating in 7 seconds. It’s just much, much harder.
What I am saying is more time is the difference between good and extraordinary.
I would also prefer to use my brain cells thinking of ideas rather than thinking about how to make 7 seconds work.
Just ask Sir John Hegarty about the importance of great stories and storytelling.
Spend a few minutes watching Levi’s ads like Twist, Odyssey, Creek and Swimmer.
Then spend 7 seconds sending a note to the person who wrote the brief, asking for more time.
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