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With digital platforms and linear television broadcasters leaning into six-second video ads, it seems the powerful, punchy format has reached critical mass in video advertising. In the past year at YouTube, we’ve learned a lot about how to build impactful six-second ads and brands have pushed the envelope with their own innovative approaches.

But the mindshift required to plan and create a story that’s a fraction of the length of traditional video ads can still pose a challenge. For some marketers, creatives, and media teams, cracking the six-second brief is a work in progress.

Hefty Brands’ fun, memorable ad, “Office Party,” (featured on the YouTube ads leaderboard earlier this year) is a study in how to do it right. We recently spoke with three people behind “Office Party” and Hefty’s larger #PartyHefty campaign to hear how they approached the brief for this six-second video ad.

We’ll get the brand perspective from Carlee Bilello, senior marketing manager at Hefty; the media angle from Cate Ryan, media manager at Rise Interactive; and the creative perspective from Karen Goodman, group creative director at Havas.

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Identify the “work” that needs to be done and build the brief from there

Carlee Bilello, senior marketing manager, Hefty Tableware

“Hefty is relatively new to party cups and we have a competitor whose name has become a generic term for the category, which is our current business challenge. While Hefty’s market share has grown over time, awareness remains low and there’s plenty of room to improve.

The ‘work’ that needed to be done in six seconds was awareness-building. Inherent in that goal is authentic, upfront branding which guided development of the brief. We didn’t need a complicated storyline, just an impactful quick hit of the brand in a genuine manner. ‘Office Party’ delivered on that in a fun, relatable way that made clear we weren’t taking ourselves too seriously. That’s pretty much everything that a consumer is looking for in advertising—and quite honestly, in their party cup.”

Pick a single goal and use the six-second ad to reinforce a larger video campaign

Cate Ryan, media manager, Rise Interactive

“For a six-second ad to work well, it should focus on one goal. The goal for #PartyHefty was brand awareness, but if the brand team had briefed us on more than one objective, like awareness and purchase intent, we would have recommended two different versions of the creative.

But just because the goal is singular doesn’t mean the six-second ad is a one-off. Instead, we thought about it as a reinforcement for a broader campaign. In this case, ‘Office Party’ was a lever to tease and reinforce our overall #PartyHefty campaign, which included other creative executions like ‘Pool Party’ and ‘Tailgating.’ It delivered a quick hit to our most relevant audiences: viewers who are in-market for holiday items or party supplies.”

Treat six-second video ads as a branded moment, not a cut-down of a longer ad

Karen Goodman, group creative director, Havas

“When it comes to the six-second format, the challenge is to avoid treating it as a shorter version of a longer ad. We think of the six-second ad as its own branded moment—not a cut-down. Thinking this way avoids the temptation to tell too complex of a story, and it opens the door for branding to be a central part of the moment. It’s clear how that came through in ‘Office Party,’ where the Party Cup is organic and integral to what’s happening.

 That approach also allowed us to build-in simple animations to open and close the spot, which gave an additional nod to the product. My other piece of advice is to simply be open to trial and error. We explored many different branding options before landing on the version of ‘Office Party’ that went forward. A willingness to try, iterate, and then try again is key to finding success with new formats.”