—Yes digital brought us banners and pre-rolls, but it also opened up wonderful new possibilities for 37-second scripts and other longer content, says Craig Redmond—
It was a strange time. I remember creative people of a certain vintage imploding. Packing their dusty award heirlooms into empty Xerox paper boxes and evacuating their agencies, resigned to the fact their career was over and it was time to finally pursue their true passion for coffee roasting, or whatever.
It was the arrival of digital. And all of us who had carved out our still young careers in 30-second intervals were suddenly being called dinosaurs, and the death of the TV commercial was the flaming meteorite hurtling towards our extinction.
“Craig!” my creative director said. “Remember all those 37-second scripts you couldn’t tighten? Now you can make them. Or a 64-second idea,” he went on infectiously. “We can do anything we want.”
I suddenly felt the weight of the world lifting off my shoulders, and was filled with a sense of exhilaration I hadn’t felt since my first day as a junior copywriter years before. This was the advertising industry’s equivalent to the Renaissance.
And while it also ushered in those soul-sapping banner ads we’ve spewed out for years, as well as the dreaded six-second video pre-roll, all that tasteless clickbait and other such digital boils in need of lancing, the new algorithmic age revealed a creative paradise called long-format that none of us had dreamed of.
Of course, it was the agency pirates, business start-up ingénues and marketing mavens who pioneered our new, beyond 30-second frontier.
And nobody embraced the long-form creative platform more than a new generation of entrepreneurs who reinvented the infomercial to introduce their digital-age version of the order-by-catalogue business.
Dollar Shave Club comes immediately to mind, and the genius of Poo Pourri and its scatological second cousin, Squatty Potty. After that, a welcome cavalcade of long-play creative “advertainment” that continues to avalanch onto our screens.
Like this latest entry from what might otherwise seem to be the least comedically fertile category imaginable: musculoskeletal orthopaedics.
Last year, the back pain relief company Chirp got a $900,000 deal on Shark Tank. And I’m guessing at least some of that coin went to this long-format infomercial, which lives entirely online and ticks all the boxes with product demos, a list of features and benefits, and even shipping and return policies. And it does it all with sidesplittingly lateral dialogue like “I ate the dude.”
If only my old colleagues in the days of analogue yore could have seen where the digital gateway could lead them.