Report From 4As Creative Conference

WHY THE 30-SECOND TV SPOT IS NOT DEAD

Traditional Form Defended By New Media Ad Pioneers

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Although his agency is pioneering a new kind of long-form TV commercial that is changing the industry, David Lubars today assured fellow ad creatives
'The Hire' leads the second round of groundbreaking BMW Films.

of his personal belief in the importance of the 30-second TV spot.

Mr. Lubars is the president and creative director of Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, the agency behind the revolutionary BMW Films campaign. Merging product placement with Hollywood moviemaking techniques, the eight-minute spots feature dramatic adventure stories revolving around BMW vehicles.

Industry debate
BMW Films has been the focus of much industry debate about how fast and to what lengths marketers must move toward new ways of integrating commercial messages into the entertainment content of movies, TV programming, video games and Web sites.

Speaking at a 2002 American Association of Advertising Agencies' Creative Conference session focused on this controversial issue, Mr. Lubars urged creative directors to be logical and practical in their assessment of when such new advertising forms are appropriate.

"There will always be 30-second commercials," he told the audience in the Plaza Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt, Union Square. "Viewers are not going to TiVo

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the football game" and many other kinds of TV programming. "There are never going to be film-length commercials produced for an athlete's foot ointment," he pointed out.

"The death of the 30-second spot has been wrongly predicted many times before and we're seeing that happen again," Lubars said.

Earlier predictions
He pointed out that it was once predicted that VCRs could kill the format and that, at another point, various new online companies such as RazorFish thought they would take over online advertising from agencies.

"But that didn't happen," he said. "They had the technology skills but they didn't know how to do what we do" in coming up with the creative ideas that can effectively create interest and desire and sell products.

'Really frightened'
Scott Mednick, president-CEO of Mandalay Branded Entertainment, Los Angeles, said he found that many marketers have been "really frightened" about how they will survive without the 30-second commercial. He said such fears were irrational, and that the new forms that merge the techniques of Hollywood and Madison Avenue are only "another arrow in the quiver" for a marketer.

Mr. Mednick said many in the industry are ignoring that while dramatic film-type commercials can create a sense of excitement and convey emotion, they can't contain product attributes and are only one part of a much larger mix of what is needed for practical, effective marketing.

'Drunk with the idea'
Creative consultant Dave O'Hare, formerly of Hal Riney and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, warned that "everyone is suddenly becoming drunk with the idea that they are in the film business."

Instead, he suggested, agencies and their clients would be better served by focusing on the quality of the 30-second spots they depend upon. He said too much of the current work has not been "that great."

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