The TVC Has Ceased to Be. It Is No More. Bereft of Life. Kicked the Bucket.

Or rather, has the traditional model for creative development bit the dust instead?


The sublime Dead Parrot scene from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which has John Cleese repeatedly state the obvious to a deliberately obtuse Michael Palin, never fails to reduce me to tears.


Through more than five minutes of excruciatingly funny caricature (supposedly based on a real salesperson Palin had met), Palin’s character attempts to, quite successfully, deflect every argument that Cleese’s character throws at him that the parrot he had recently bought from Palin had died. Palin never flinches, even when Cleese started to thump the shop counter with the dead parrot. Hilarious!


For some reason, I always think of that scene when thinking of TV commercials. There is always some overstatement about the state of the commercial model for interruptive ads. Indeed, the industry itself seems to not be pulling any punches with calling time on its own model.


Joe Marchese of the Fox Networks Group was recently reported by New York Times saying that ‘The social contract is broken with the consumer — they don’t want to watch the ads’. It is not for me to judge the commercial model of TV. I think all the networks are moving as quickly as they can to address the ad dollar migration to digital, by innovating content.


Singing With the Choir Invisible


My point is different – I think the traditional 30 seconder storytelling is as dead as John Cleese’s parrot. And as frustrated as advertisers are, the gatekeepers (marketing teams, creative agencies and production houses) are sticking to their gameplan as obstinately as Michael Palin’s character.


We have noted before that Facebook’s news feed is a crucible that separates performing ads from the non-performing ones, quickly and efficiently.


Any video that is made for TV will not work in the news feed. There are no ifs, ands or buts. Autoplay, silent play, a view time of less than 3 seconds are only three of the factors that force advertisers to rethink how to tell stories with video.  


And yet, evidence seems to present the contrary. The classic challenge-solution-reveal format is a holdover from the TV era that will not die the death it needs to.


Stop Being Silly: Social Video Ads Are Different


– Newsfeed Video Ads are demonstrating measurable, sustainable returns


– Native Video has distinct qualities from platform to platform, Facebook has its own nuances


– The audience is generally younger: 18 to 33 years old


Always Look on the Bright Side: The Pillars for Developing Video Ads


But here’s the thing – the made-for-TV ad is a great resource to work from, as long as you are clear who you want to address and what you want to push them to.


1. Start strong

It’s a crowded place, the newsfeed. Make your brand known and relevant up front. There is no place for the coy brand reveal 25 seconds in. That is 22 seconds too late! Pushing your brand up front opens a window of opportunity for relevancy.


2. Keep it short

Even if you establish relevance in the first three seconds, the window can slam shut if you take too long to make your pitch. Remember the broad audience is generally younger and that most video is watched on the move.


3. Make your point clearly

A smoothly integrated call-to-action will improve ad performance. Be clear what you want the viewer to do – click to view, download a coupon etc.


4. There’s no perfect ad

Sorry, but that’s the truth. Loads of marketers are still trapped into TV-thinking, which is to test in production, then go live with a final version. This doesn’t have to be the case, don’t just take the final version, use whatever footage you have and A/B test all you can – different titles, starts, middles and CTAs. You will be surprised by what you discover and what actually works!


5. Shoot with the (mobile) news feed in mind

When commissioning videos, bear the above points in mind. Everything is smaller on mobile, so do not be too subtle – zoom in as much as possible!  Anticipate the need for different CTAs, and supporting scenes. Set aside production budget to create different versions. Be prepared to test and, if possible, make mid-campaign changes with the data you have garnered.



Winner of Facebook’s Innovation Spotlight Award for Creativity, ReFUEL4 is the world’s leading data-driven creative platform. We deliver ad designs from 10,000 global creators backed by AI technology capable of predicting ad performance and fatigue. We own the world’s only automatic creative refresh platform that supports scalable production, intelligent selection, auto-swapping and auto-refresh of creatives for campaign optimization. Find out how we can ReFUEL your next Facebook or Instagram campaign.

Vernon Vasu

ReFUEL4's Co-Founder and CMO, Vernon practices anger management through Muay Thai and wine appreciation. But not sequentially.