Six Seconds to Advertise

Michael Callahan

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Whether consumers like it or not, the six-second commercial format is here to stay. Google (and others) claim that the new format will lead to a new generation of creativity, but anyone who watched a college football or an NFL game this year know that many of the ads are boring. Like boring with a capital B! Over the holidays, many of the six-second ads were simply static logo presentations with little thought. While these short ads do claim to have high ROI, does that mean audiences can’t be entertained at the same time?

Yes, it would have been very hard for 86 Lumber to tell their 2017 Super Bowl narrative in six-seconds. With only seconds to tell a story, ad makers must distill all of the important elements into a concise and simple storyline. And, in many respects, this is the opposite of what consumers have come to expect during large, live events like the Super Bowl.

But, I refuse to be. So, for inspiration (and because it is fun,) let’s take a look at some ads that could have been six-seconds or less.

First up is a Pepsi commercial from 1996. It is near perfect with Hank William Sr.’s classic song, Your Cheatin’ Heart, as a soundtrack.

Google’s Pixel ads in 2016 were among my favorites for 2017. Android was designed around the Google search bar, and fittingly, these ads start with the search bar that opens up to reveal the possibilities of the phone.

This classic Nike ad is all about impact in the first few frames.

Lastly, take a look at this ad for the Navy Seals. No voice over needed, no music, in fact, you never even see the Navy Seals! Unlike many Navy ads that show the soldiers wearing cameo, riding in helicopters, and operating fast skifts, this ad has been distilled to a single set-up. It’s perfect.

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Michael Callahan

Associate Creative Director

Creative