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Facebook’s ‘Thumbstoppers’ program pushes Indian agencies to create sub-10 second films

Facebook India has collaborated with several prominent ad agencies to launch ‘Thumbstoppers’, billed as “a first-of-its-kind initiative to redefine short-form mobile video creativity in the country.”

While traditionally oriented around the 30-second or 60-second commercials, Indian ad agencies have gravitated towards creating longer format films for the online medium, with some of these having a generous seven-minute plus runtime.

Social networking and video sharing sites like Facebook and YouTube on the other hand want agencies to create shorter films that work best in their ad formats and pre-rolls. 

And so Facebook is making a conscious effort to convince creative talent in India to apply themselves to creating 10 second or less “thumbstoppers”: films that will cause people to stop in their tracks, as they scroll through their timelines.   

Facebook has partnered with senior creative talent including Ogilvy India chief creative officer Sukesh Nayak, Wunderman Thompson chief creative officer Senthil Kumar, Leo Burnett India chief creative officer Rajdeepak Das, Mullen Lintas chief creative officer Garima Khandelwal and McCann Worldgroup executive director and head of creative Ashish Chakravarty.

These leaders will spearhead change at their agencies, pivoting them to become more comfortable creating the sort of films and ads that work best on Facebook. They will be helped in this process by experts from the social networking site.

The initiative will culminate in a contest called ‘Thumbstopper Challenge’ which will invite creative people to come up with sub-10 second films on the brief of “driving behaviour”. The categories include “breaking stereotypes”; “little big moments of life”; “start a habit” and “products we love”.

To kickstart the campaign, Wunderman Thompson India has created a few sample films around these themes.

The winners will bag an expense paid trip to the Cannes Lions next year and Facebook will produce the top 20 films.

The films will be judged by the creative people involved in the project as well as Unilever India general manager of media for South Asia Gaurav Jeet Singh and Nestle India vice president of consumer communications, media and CRM Rashi Goel.

Speaking about the initiative, Facebook India director and head of global marketing solutions Sandeep Bhushan said: “Advertising on Facebook has driven significant business results for all our advertisers – large and small.

“The opportunity now is to drive the impact even harder with storytelling built for mobile. Facebook’s Thumbstoppers is our partnership with the creative agencies to inspire and showcase short stories that evoke emotions in under ten seconds”.

Wunderman Thompson’s Kumar said: “Short stories move hearts. It takes only a few seconds to show support, break down barriers, display kindness, start a movement or express that love has no boundaries.

“Our campaign created to launch Facebook Thumbstoppers is a mobile kick-starter of sorts. The idea is to demonstrate that storytelling can happen in a short and sweet span of 10 seconds.

“Exploring this telegraphic short format in the mobile medium is important because of decreasing attention spans and growing impatience. Each of these films tells a story that has some underlying purpose or human truth in it. Much like advertising for brands, these films also use drama, emotion, suspense and humour to tug at your heart strings.”

Thumbstoppers is the first initiative from Facebook Creative Playground. Facebook describes this as “an industry-wide capability-enhancing program geared towards building the advertising ecosystem in India in partnership with leading creative agencies.”

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