Facebook India’s move to boost short-form video has creative honchos all excited

Facebook India has launched ‘Thumbstoppers’, a first-of-its-kind initiative to redefine short-form mobile video creativity in the country. This initiative is in partnership with leaders from the advertising industry – Wunderman Thompson, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, McCann and Mullen Lintas – to transform storytelling for mobile advertising.

As mobile becomes pervasive, there has emerged an ardent need for marketers and creative agencies to create mobile-first ads. With declining attention spans, traditional advertising formats of 60 and 30 seconds don’t work well on mobile. The industry needs to embrace the possibility that stories that stop thumbs from scrolling, evoke emotions, and change human behaviour can be told in under 10 seconds. That is the premise of ‘Thumbstoppers - Short stories move hearts’.

With this initiative, it’s the first time that the most prominent creative leaders of the country have come together on the same platform to transform and pivot the creative industry to embrace creativity for mobile. The initiative sees the participation of Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy India; Senthil Kumar, Chief Creative Officer Wunderman Thompson India; Rajdeepak Das, Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett India; Garima Khandelwal, Chief Creative Officer, Mullen Lintas; and Ashish Chakravarty, Executive Director, and Head of Creative at McCann Worldgroup (India). These key partners will spearhead change at their agencies, and eventually for the industry. In partnership with Facebook, they will support skilling of their teams, helping them understand and think mobile-first, and execute short-form videos more seamlessly. Thumbstoppers will see experts from Facebook visiting top agency offices in the country to empower them with the required skills and education to create effective short-form video campaigns for their clients.

Speaking at the launch of the Thumbstoppers campaign in Mumbai, Sandeep Bhushan, Director and Head of Global Marketing Solutions (GMS), at Facebook India, 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 10 seconds.”

At the launch, Facebook also released a few Thumbstopper films with an objective of inspiring the creative and marketing community, and to display that powerful storytelling is possible in less than 10 seconds. The entire campaign is based on the brief of driving ‘behaviour change’, which is the purpose of all advertising. The films are created by Wunderman Thompson and cover a wide spectrum of human behaviour. These stories also showcase how mobile videos offer a diverse canvas by being distinct to other mediums - the importance of grabbing attention in the first few seconds, viewed on vertical often with sound-off, and a delight with sound-on.

As a follow up to the campaign launch, Facebook is also throwing open a ‘Thumbstopper Challenge’ – an invitation to all creative minds to submit their short stories on the brief of driving behaviour change in less than 10 seconds by July 12. The winners of the Thumbstopper Challenge will be announced in August, and the top winners will get to travel to Cannes next year. Facebook will also produce the top 20 films. The key partners on this initiative will serve on the eminent jury for the challenge along with Gaurav Jeet Singh, General Manager, Media, South Asia at Unilever India, and Rashi Goel, VP - Consumer Communications, Media, and CRM at Nestle.

Wunderman Thompson’s Senthil Kumar remarked, “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 humor to tug at your heart strings.”

Thumbstoppers is the first initiative to be rolled-out as part of Facebook Creative Playground, an industry-wide capability-enhancing program led by Facebook that is geared towards building the advertising ecosystem in India in partnership with leading creative agencies. Facebook will work closely with these partners to collaborate on a range of initiatives and skilling programs that will enable the agencies to explore a wide range of cutting-edge digital brand solutions.

Last date of Thumbstopper Challenge submission: 12th July, 2019
Contest details and submission link:

Industry Speak 

Sandeep Bhushan, Director and Head of Global Marketing Solutions (GMS), Facebook India:
"When ads were made earlier, they were TV first. Today, when we see commercials on the Internet, many brands are going to be mobile first. Not that there will be no TV, but we are going to see more and more brands on mobile and social and they have become the most critical point in every brief suggested to us – that a TV-first strategy won’t work anymore and hence, the reason and urgency of this programme. With half a million folks on the Internet, we have to keep up to it. 

India is one of the largest and important consumer-based users of the FB family of Apps. We pride ourselves in giving the best out of India to the world. Given the vibrancy in our creative ecosystem, we have the largest pool of consumers on the Internet, so India will always lead the Internet thinking and the fact that the creative system is so vibrant with adequate muscle as well, so we decided to start from India. 

For Thumbstoppers, we will be using all the Facebook channels and other forms of media that can get to the creative system, creative folks and going across to creative agencies to tell them about this initiative, so that they get to know and follow the link to submit their entries.” 

Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India:
“For me, every medium has its own rules and how you engage with that medium has its own challenges. For us as creative community, every challenge is a great burden to overcome and think of a great idea. So, for me personally, without an idea, no tech can create the connect that we need to create. There are great examples of some great work done globally, because as a medium it has been a far more entrenched medium globally. They are way ahead in terms of consumption of this medium, they are not just 10-second ads, but fantastic ideas that have really made the difference on a specific brand or communication. Personally, the duration is not a challenge, 10 seconds is not a problem – but effectively using the idea is.” 

Senthil Kumar, Chief Creative Officer, Wunderman Thompson India:
“These 10-seconders that I have created are something which you want to go back to again and again, stories which tug at your heart. I do believe that it takes less than 10 seconds for a tear to roll down your cheek or face to turn red with anger or a smile to break out, you can exhibit and capture these emotions in less than 10 seconds. This is what this challenge is going to do and it is open not just to the creative guys, but everybody. You have a mobile phone, go out and shoot something interesting or write something interesting and send it to us.” 

Ashish Chakravarty, Executive Director, and Head of Creative,  McCann Worldgroup (India):
“We are getting briefs for mobile content, but unfortunately it is an edit of the television ad. The industry is in the cusp of transition and increasingly, more and more brands want mobile ads. We have seen excellent 3 sec/ 5 sec/ 10 sec ads earlier as well, but it is not happening as part of a brief. It is now part of every major campaign, TV is the first part and the rest follows. For me, it is also to bring it into the conversation with clients what are the best practices, what are the kind of things one can do, and the clients also see the possibilities with this. Earlier, a 6-second pre-roll was mandatory, now a 6-second pre-roll is a story. I really want to see the kind of good creatives emerging from this challenge.” 

Rajdeepak Das, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett India:
“The most powerful story we have seen in the past 10 years is ‘Emoji’, the entire story can be crunched into one Emoji. For instance, I don’t have to spell out that last winter when I saw you I felt something for you and now I want to fall in love with you again and lets go for dinner – I can say all that with one image, the heart emoji! 

When emojis started happening, it was the most powerful ever language created out of nothing. When we talk about some journalistic stories like the Bhopal Gas Tragedy or the Syrian War, all we remember is that one image which told us the whole story. That is the power of the small format. Look at the powerful story that just 6 words tell – ‘For sale, baby shoes never worn’. You don’t have to say anything after that. A story so powerful in 6 words and you need 6 seconds to tell it.”


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