On the death of the 30-second spot and other myths

So there’s this video going around the internet called, “Where the Hell is Matt.” A guy doing a wonderful crazy dance all over the world. He seems to be dancing non-stop, from Toronto to Timbuktu, inspiring the locals to join in, backed by a soundtrack for a SiSoMo (Sight Sound and Motion) experience that could rekindle your belief in the human race. I Googled Matt’s profile. Learned that Stride Gum sponsored his video.

Stride Gum? Never heard of it. I linked to the Stride Gum web site, where there was a whole bunch of online content. Then something funny happened. I didn’t have a lot of time. So I went first to a couple of Stride Gum TV spots posted on the site. Intuitively I knew those would be the QUICKEST way to get what Stride Gum is all about.

Those spots were good! Funny, entertaining, 30-second stories all built around the drama of the product. Stride Gum has cool flavors, and the taste lasts so long, Stride has to send out swat teams to force non-stop chewers to spit out the gum, so Stride can stay in business. Thanks for letting me know, 30-second spot! I must try some Stride Gum when I’m next in the States.

So here’s the point. 30-second spots aren’t inherently EVIL. In fact, they have one undeniable virtue. Their creators have fine-tuned the art of getting across a product or brand story in an incredibly short amount of time. And in the best examples of the craft, they tell that story in a way that delights, entertains and rewards viewers for their 30-second investment. No offense to the public relations profession, but show me a PR writer who can do that! The 30-second spot still works incredibly well, when it’s well done, well integrated into a bigger whole, and when I decide, though connections I initiate, the terms on which I want to watch.

Many have said it – Kevin Roberts and Shel Holtz among others — and to them I add my voice. We’re living in the communications age of and-and, not either-or. The “cool” viral video of Matt’s inspired global dance, hand in hand with the “traditional” 30-second, product-focused spot. Only now I’m invited, not forced, to watch it. The 30-second spot isn’t dead. It just needed to find a better way to socialize.



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10 responses to “On the death of the 30-second spot and other myths

  1. Hi,

    I love this video from a dancer’s perspective. Thanks for adding an ad-man’s perspective as well, Steve.

    If we could each dance with people around the world, I think world peace would come much more easily in our lifetime.

    I’ve subscribed to your blog. Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Great new blog. Let’s starting talking more, on Seesmic.com and email/phone.


  3. Hey Steve!

    I’ve been following the conversation on the Six Pixels of Separation podcast … welcome to blogland!

    Thanks also for posting the “Where in the hell” video — I hadn’t seen it yet and wouldn’t have caught the split-second Toronto appearance if you hadn’t mentioned it by name.


    — J

  4. Stephen Rothman

    Hi Jeni. Funny that, about Toronto. I visited Newsbite. Nice blog, although frankly, I’m not much of a cook. Great that you can blog for “pay.” Right now doing this out of love and passion next to my day job, which is related at least. Enjoying it so far, and no trouble as yet finding things to say. It’s keeping me up late at night though! 🙂 As to whether people find it worth listening, well, that’s a different question. Happy if people do, but also just simply enjoy getting down my thoughts and writing. It will lead where it leads. I’m a religious Six Pixels listener. Mitch is great!

  5. Pingback: The antidote for the TV network is called the world wide web « Steve’s Social Media Soapbox

  6. Aside from geeking out on the “social media” aspect of Stride’s sponsorship – I love that it (a) allowed Matt to live out something that was probably beyond what he may have ever dreamed of doing and (b) didn’t slap their name or images all over the videos.

    True, it may have gotten them more recognition if they had. But on the “warm fuzzy” and “brand respect” level, they went up a gazillion notches in my book when I found out they sponsored Matt’s travels.

    Granted, I’m already a Stride-chewer – I like their gum & am a sucker for their packaging!

    • Stephen Rothman

      Hi Faryl, I’m literally chewing Stride gum as I read your comment. In fact, I just was able to purchase it for the first time last week when I was in New York City for the holidays. Unfortunately, I’m a bit disappointed. Not in the flavor, or the packaging, which I agree is totally cool. But they didn’t fulfill their main product promise. Their advertising and other communications (including the tie-in with Matt) says that the taste of Stride lasts longer than other chewing gum. They set very high expectations. As far as I can tell, Stride’s flavor doesn’t last any longer. That’s my perception, at least, and perception, as they say, is reality.

  7. I’m disappointed too! I just heard the video is a hoax – trying to get more info to figure out if that’s really true.

    I haven’t compared Stride’s longevity with other brands recently, but if they photoshopped their way to viral fame, I don’t care how good their product is, I don’t want to buy it. Would prefer a blatant ad – it’s more genuine than manipulated social media. No?

  8. Stephen Rothman

    Hi Faryl, I gather from your reference to photoshop that by hoax you mean that some or all of the video segments weren’t filmed with Matt dancing at the actual location. That would indeed be unfortunate, as I think this was the essential to what many people found so appealing about the video. Here was this somewhat chubby American, with his goofy, yet charming dance, bringing people together in different countries and cultures around the globe. A lovely story for a world that is becoming ever more divided. Is your information from a trustworthy source? A number of brands have been lambasted for similar deceptions by the online community, but I honestly doubt if Stride is a big enough brand for any negative buzz to spread broadly enough to effect their business. Nevertheless, especially in social media space, honesty is truly the best policy. Interested to hear what you learn further.

  9. Pingback: The Chaos Scenario — Chicken Little was right! « Steve’s Social Media Soapbox

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