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6 Second Sale – The Bizarre Art of Advertising on Vine


Vine is the ultimate craze for the generation of the microscopic attention span. A 6 second long video loop might seem like an extremely confined world to create things in, and it is, but some of the best art in history has been created as a result of overcoming limitations. The first Silent Hill game wouldn’t be anywhere near as unsettling if they hadn’t added the thick fog to cover up the lousy graphics, if Monty Python had been able to afford real horses for The Holy Grail we’d have been denied the coconut gag and don’t even get me started on Beethoven. He was deaf.

Vine might not fit into the same category as any of those and you’d be hard pressed to find anything on there yet which constitutes real, vital art, except perhaps this magnificent footage of Tyler, the Creator frightening random Japanese pedestrians, or this guy being menaced by a sprungfloor, or maybe this sneezing dog. Sorry, I’ll stop now. What I was working my way around to was that while it’s easy enough to condense physical comedy or any kind of general tomfoolery into such a short-form medium, it’s much harder to sell something. Even the shortest ads usually clock in at 10 seconds or longer and if they don’t they’re usually a kind of tease for a bigger, more complete one, but that hasn’t stopped companies from trying to jump on the Vine train and the results have been pretty interesting.

In the most broad terms, the companies who have the most to gain from advertising on Vine are the ones that are so big that they don’t have to worry about throwing their name around or explaining what they do. Like the Cadbury’s gorilla, the Guinness surfers or basically any advert Levi’s have brought out since the 1980s, some brands are so well established that they can throw out kitschy/inspirational/weird material that bears virtually no relation to what they’re selling and still build up some decent exposure. Intel are obviously confident in their influence, being that they seem to be more interested in supplying you with life-hacks than peddling processors. Samsung have always been good at this kind of thing too and while you do see one of their smartphones in the below loop, it’s hard to understand exactly how an animated basketball player has anything to do with the quality of the device. It’s cool though.

More impressively, a lot of brands have managed to show off the product far more comprehensively within the tiny time frame. Sony manage to showcase the quality of their own smartphone’s camera with this impromptu Inception tribute and Angry Birds managed to advertise a new toy and demonstrate a new feature in the game all in one fell swoop (sorry). Oreos are the clear winner in this regard though. They don’t take much explaining as a product, you twist them apart and dip them in milk before you eat them, but their Vine channel is a magnificent gallery of stop-motion film spoofs and sight gags, like this one:

Of course if you want a more complete idea of what a complex, subtle art Vine advertising is, you have to look at the worst as well as the best. Vice recently published a brilliant expose on the ‘Parcel Pete’ ad campaign, an unwittingly terrifying series of videos involving the eponymous mascot doing things that demonstrate a very vague understanding of online culture and what it looks like when you try and draft an office full of understandably unwilling employees into a doomed-to-fail, pointless boondoggle.

The rough-and-ready style is forgivable for a small company like that though, bigger ones have no excuse. From Trident Gum’s depressing clips of a gormless man enjoying gum in a gormless way to this seizure inducing affront to good editing courtesy of American Apparel, dozens of brands seem to think that DIY advertising just means not making an effort. Worse yet, it can be a sure-fire way for marketing departments to demonstrate that they have absolutely zero understanding of internet culture. For example, Urban Outfitters seem to think that all you need to do to give something online appeal is to put dogs in it.

What this all says when you smash it together into something vaguely resembling a conclusion is that Vine is a messy, experimental playground where you can see the full spectrum of cutting edge brand placement from genius to outright idiocy. I’d never normally encourage anyone to take time out to peruse advertising, but Vine is the exception that proves the rule, especially if you’re in with a chance of encountering something as wondrous as Ian McKellen being accosted by a manners-obsessed Gandalf muppet.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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6 Second Sale – The Bizarre Art of Advertising on Vine Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, May 29, 2015 Rating: 5

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