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From now on ads should be no longer than five seconds says former enfant terrible Trevor Beattie

Trevor Beattie, the founder of Beattie McGuinness Bungay, did a turn at the Advertising Week Europe conference today at which he announced that 30, 60 and any other second ad above five was a waste of time and space – in the era of Twitter and Facebook.

This at a time when ads, if anything, are getting longer as people produce epic productions in the hope of a second life on YouTube.

“I’m announcing the death of the 30-second TV ad – it is too long, it is bullshit,” he said. “Five seconds is the right length. One of the ways of getting noticed is to change the standard unit of consumption, that unit is 30 seconds and it is boring.”

Beattie (left) said he has introduced what he referred to as the “five-second rule”: that in the modern technology age of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter consumers have become much quicker at analysing messages.

Which may account for why BMB, now part-owned by South Korean marcoms company Cheil Worldwide, doesn’t have that many clients.

Beattie was probably the most famous creative director of the 2000s when he was running the show at TBWA. He took the credit for the famous Wonderbra ad featuring Eva Herzigova (although other people laid claim to it too) and became a member of Tony Blair’s Labour communications squad when Blair was winning elections.

But this latest pronunciation is surely just an attempt to grab some long-departed headlines. Twitter isn’t an advertising medium and, if you think you can persuade someone to shell out their hard-earned money in five seconds, you’re surely on the side of exploitation as opposed to reason-based persuasion.

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Grow up, Trev.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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