Points of View: Ad Cap: How are the ponytails dealing with it?

By Prachi Srivastava , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | August 30, 2013
Will the 12-minute ad cap result in a flurry of 10-second TVCs at the cost of 30-seconders and longer?

October 1 is set to change the way the television industry has been functioning in India. This day on, the total air time that advertisers can avail from TV channels will reduce by 30-50 per cent. That this will impact the nature of the deals between advertisers and broadcasters, is known. But will this affect the way TV ads are conceived and shot?

While there has been a lot of song and dance in the media about the impact of the 10+2 (10 minutes for advertisements and two minutes for promotions) ad cap on advertisers, broadcasters and media agencies, not much has been written about how this could affect the people who're most closely involved with the creative process. This segment comprises creative heads, the friendly neighbourhood art-copy duo, ad film makers, production house owners, and perhaps most importantly, ad film editors.

Given the availability of slots of varying lengths, TV ads are edited such that the advertiser has at his disposal 60, 45, 30, 20 and sometimes even 10 second versions of the same film.Typically, ad campaigns break with the release of the lengthier versions. These ads stay on air for some time and when the dent in the advertiser's pocket starts to get wider, the spots are quickly replaced by the shorter versions. We've come to refer to these mini-ads as 'reminder films'. Conveying the same brand story through these long -- then short --'edits', as directors call them, is challenging enough. Now, the ad cap has suddenly made the editor's scissors even more important.

While the suits talk money, it's the creative guys who have to grapple with this new-found upper limit for their ad spots. Does this imply an upper limit on their creativity? afaqs! finds out.

K V Sridhar, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett, Indian subcontinent

Film is the best medium to establish emotional equity of a brand. Today, luckily we have the internet, where length is not an issue. It can be used a bit more effectively in the case of long-duration commercials and help build an emotional impact. Take the case of the 60-seconder during cricket matches; people have no option but to watch it. But if you put the same ad on YouTube, they might not watch it if they don't like it. So the pressure on creative teams is going to be much higher now. They will have to create content that people will want to share.

K V Sridhar

Charles Victor

Ram Madhvani

Tushar Raut

If TV becomes too expensive to air longer ads, delivering the emotional side of the story will become a challenge. TV is a medium of reach and one will be able to deliver a rational message quickly. Then probably the internet will take the message ahead. Live television will become like print -- a medium to disseminate rational messages -- and the internet will become a medium where one can build on the emotional quotient.

Today people have different platforms on which they can view content. We will have to create content that is able to start a conversation. The content should create stimulus for different screens.

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth

As creative people, we always want more time! Many a time, we have to make 20-second versions of what we show in 40 seconds. I do think that the 10+2 ad cap will impact the industry. It is challenging but we cannot sit back and crib about it. It is going to happen and we will have to deal with it, adapt it and get on with it. The important point to note here is that this will not impact production in any way. The amount of effort we put into making an ad will remain and the amount of money that is invested in the process will still be required.

Ram Madhvani, director, Equinox Films

The 10+2 ad cap will start conversations between media, client (brands) and creative teams that haven't happened since media as a discipline was detached from creative. I think we will begin to revisit the issue of impact versus frequency. Right now everyone is on the frequency bandwagon and one of the first fallouts will be this: Everyone will start making shorter ads because they are cheaper. But whether the consumer is going to be impacted by that, whether sales will increase - we will have to wait and see. And my suspicion is: No, it's not going to really help.

Because of the idea of YouTube being another TV channel, we might have to make an ad, air few seconds on TV and then direct viewers to YouTube. Another thing that can be done is releasing a 60-seconder over two days rather than releasing 10-seconders over two months.
In cases where my ads have become part of popular culture (like 'Harek friend zaruri hota hai') people talk about the ads and share them. This shows that it's important that people talk about your ad. This whole thing will start a conversation that will look at how to use media more creatively.The message/campaign should be strong enough, powerful enough so that people talk about it. If it's creating a buzz in two days, why do you need more than that?

It will not at all be challenging for the editors because that's something their job demands, and I think we are well versed in making 5, 10 and 20-seconders.

Tushar Raut, producer, Coconut Films

This will impact the creative industry and all of us are equally concerned. As an alternative, agencies and clients are looking at mediums like cinema or the internet, and are trying to showcase their 45 and 60-seconder ads there. But cinemas have started showing commercials that are up to 20 minutes long; this leaves the viewers agitated. Somewhere, all this is bad news.

The concepts and scripts that are coming in are such that there's a master script that is a 60-second montage with six sequences and there are shorter, 20-second edits that have two sequences each. What they are planning to do is to cut down the 60-seconder into three 20-seconders. These shorter versions will either be aired consecutively (thus forming the master film) or separately on different slots. But how do you communicate the same thing in a 60 as well as 20-seconder TVCs? It's quite a task, from a creative person's perspective.

Editing also will depend on who has more money today. The channels will benefit the most because now there will be an auction-like situation, where only the one with more money can advertise. Majority advertisers will suffer. In turn, agencies will suffer. And this will affect production houses as well.

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