Tata Sky ‘prison break’ ad: a counter point

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The description over at YouTube says: Tata Sky+ HD’s latest TVC is the longest TV commercial (with a run time of 3 min, 30 secs) to be telecast in the history of Indian advertising. Prison Break is an extremely fast paced, gripping story, where a bunch of foreign convicts plan to escape from an Indian prison during the India Pakistan match. Tata Sky+ HD is somehow involved in intercepting this plan.

While the ad has got largely positive reviews, my issue is with the duration being touted as a big thing. To me, running a 3-minute plus ad on mass media is pure indulgence. Over indulgence, in fact. Some will argue that creatives should not be constrained with restrictions on duration as ultimately it is the impact that matters. I would agree to an extent. There is nothing inherently wrong in a long duration ad. All I am saying is that such efforts must be tempered with business goals and a ‘business sense’. It is the client’s money after all and it must be used wisely – be it in production or media.

In my view, the cons outweigh the pros in creating a 3-minute TVC meant for mass media release. The ad, while different and interesting was nowhere near the tension created with serials like 24 and Prison Break. More importantly, the cost of airing it (though I have no idea of the media plan) makes it ‘poor value’ for me. If it was web-only film aimed to garner online buzz, it is a different issue. I am sure the recent Jaguar film – a 13-minute one at that, with heavy duty names (Ridley Scott & Associates) involved must have cost a fortune to create. But airing it on YouTube and hoping it will go viral is one thing. Airing it on mass media channels for a substantial period of time is another story. In advertising, when you have deep pockets (of the client) and an indulgent mass media budget, the challenge is far less compared to a situation where one has to communicate within a tight budget of money & time. So while the strategy of linking it to ‘people who don’t have time for TV’ maybe right, somehow the execution did not appeal to me. There could have been a second right answer, me thinks.

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