Paul Shearer reflects on how the gift of time can take an ad from good to great

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.

Impossible? No.

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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