Voters’ downward spiral when it comes to attention spans is pushing ad makers to adapt their creative. One of the end results: TikTok-stye shots for TV spots.
“Viewers’ attention spans are dwindling from social media, TikTok, things like that, or watching multiple screens at once,” said Sara Swezy, who was recently promoted to partner at Democratic media shop Sena Kozar Strategies. “I’ve just found a lot of need to have quick cuts — and ads have just a lot of volume of shots overall. [In the past], we would shoot b-roll for a couple scenes and have a couple lines to camera.”
No shoot is that tidy anymore: “We did an ad in Virginia that recreated a school lockdown drill for [teacher/state Sen.] Schuyler VanValkenburg, and just the amount of shots we had in that piece [included] every detail — from a hand on a door knob locking the door to pulling the blinds down and students checking their phones, things like that.”
It’s all with an eye towards keeping viewers engaged. “But also to really tell the full picture of the story from kind of A to Z, all angles,” said Swezy.
Joslin Schultz, who as part of the firm’s recent round of promotions was elevated to VP, said that part of this creative approach had to do with voters watching multiple screens at the same time.
“It makes our shoots a lot longer, but I think it makes our ads a lot better,” said Schultz. “Specifically for that lockdown drill ad, we started that ad, basically, with a GoPro shot, and then switched it into very quick cuts of a live action lockdown drill, but also [incorporated] things like our sound effects, using the alarm to jar people into looking at the screen.”
Schultz added that for the same client, they used TikTok transitions in another spot for the 2023 state Senate campaign.
“It had a lot of opening doors and walking in and lots of quick cuts,” she said. “I think we’ve just been widening what we look at for inspiration for our ads because we want people to keep watching them.”
These are the kinds of ads that also help answer the inevitable client question, “Will this go viral?” Who knows, these ad makers say. But at least these kinds of visuals give it a better chance than not. And best of all, from the clients’ perspective, they don’t cost more to produce.