10 ads of 20-seconds or under: short is sweet

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How to tell a compelling story, that affects the viewer in some way… in 30 seconds. That’s the challenge and the beauty of TV commercials. Even feature film directors who are used to 2-3 hour epics find this aspect of ‘cinema’ fascinating. The longer duration commercials have their merit – they can keep you spell bound, dazzle you with special effects and more. When it comes to story telling, I have particularly enjoyed the shorter duration commercials – the ones that are 20 seconds or under. Here are a few that have caught my eye. Not all can be bracketed as great, but hey, they get across the point in a jiffy.

1. Febreze: a fabric odour eliminator from P&G operates in a rather unsexy segment. The allure of the fragrance is dramatized in these set of spots.

2. Heinz: what can be over in 2 minutes? Heinz soup, for one. The other is a subject of countless jokes.

3. The Economist: this may be a departure from the classic AMV BBDO, clever-headline driven campaigns of UK but dramatically brings out the point of what is immediately apparent isn’t so.

4. Meerkat: what’s the difference between Compare the Market, a car insurance brand and a Meerkat? Not much.

5. IKEA: a nice setup which leads you down the wrong path.

6. Toyota RAV 4: ‘get outdoors’ is the clarion call of this SUV brand. Cleverly juxtaposed with the ‘dangers’ of staying indoors. How is it unique to Toyota and not applicable to all SUVs in another matter, though.

7. Denver Water Conservation: the privileges of living in an affluent society involve educative campaigns urging people to water their grass for 2 minutes less.

8. Axe: most of the Axe ads are enjoyable and have caught public fancy. The series I liked most where these short ones where they establish the ‘great lengths’ girls go to hang on to the Axe man.

9. McDonalds, UK: how much work does a plumber need to do to afford a McDonalds quarter pounder?

10. Alberta’s Libraries: books and beyond is the claim. Stories of what happens after people borrow books is the twist.

The longer version ads can be compared to those long winding jokes. The good ones take you down the garden path and the impact depends on the final punch line, the twist in the tale. The shorter ads are perhaps like good one liners – the snappier and unexpected they are, better the memorability.

Hope you enjoyed these ads. Any other short & sweet ads that come to mind, from India or elsewhere?

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  1. Sriram Iyer Reply

    Of the Indian ones, I liked the ‘Iodex’ TVC:

    The series of ‘Yellow pages’ TVCs were also quite good. Simple – clear – short and to-the-point.

    PS – Do you know of any McD campaign that were for just around 5 seconds in the U.K.?

  2. Sriram, thanks for the comment. No, not aware of the 5-sec McDonalds ads. Have seen the 1-sec spots for Miller Lite, which ran on Super Bowl this year. And on AMV BBDOs site, they had some great idents for Dulux.

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