Cartier’s Multi-Minute Commercial Début

Last Sunday Cartier aired a 3 ½ minute long commercial on three major networks: CBS, ABC, and NBC. This was a major shift in marketing dollars for the luxury retailer, as its previous media placement spend has been mostly allocated to magazine advertisements.

So, why the sudden shift to $3 million TV commercial placements?

When live TV commercials were first introduced in the 1940s, the commercials ran at 60 second spots and eventually decreased to the more modern 15 second time spots. Today, these 15 second spots enable most TV advertisements to be creatively short. They usually highlight value and benefits and are ultimately all versions of one another, at least within each industry. Many are lacking in differentiation and consumer appeal.

Recently, however, there have been a number of retailers, including Chipotle and Gap Inc., that have caught sight of this redundancy. They shifted strategy and instead opted to create multi-minute long TV commercials. Not only are these advertisements enormously longer than competitors, but as a consequence they tend to “roadblock” competitors from airing during the same sitcom.

The most recent contender, Cartier, debuted its new commercial on Sunday night. The debut appropriately aired during “The Good Wife”, “Celebrity Apprentice”, and “Desperate Housewives” sitcoms, all with demographics akin to that of Cartier’s target audience. Their commercial placement is of heightened importance because Cartier needed to not only grasp and hold consumer attention span for minutes longer, but also ensure that the many more dollars invested in capturing the extra time have a valuable return.

So, how does Cartier do this?

Well, forget a sales pitch! Every consumer knows that diamonds are shiny – that they represent wealth and success. What about the brand? What about the jaguar?

Cartier’s, “L’Odyssée de Cartier”, captured the essence of a story. The commercial brought a journey to life. It differentiated Cartier from other luxury jewelers by introducing the jaguar as a character, giving it a narrative. Luxury, mystery, fantasy, and seduction were all elements in the story line – but the real drawing was that the commercial carried the consumer from beginning to end. Consumers wanted to see what happened next.

A similar example, the popular Chipotle commercial “Back To The Start.” The 2 minute 20 second advertisement evoked emotion. The restaurant chain elicited a real yearning for integrity and good; the company touched on consumer nostalgia. There was a story, with characters, that guided you through Chipotle’s company history. There was an element of transparency in which Chipotle acknowledged where they lost themselves, went wrong, and decided to change.

Consumers watched the entire commercials. One advertising executive, Tom Julian, from Tom Julian Group, was quoted saying he actually rewound Cartier’s commercial to watch it again. Cartier stopped people from fast forwarding through the commercial break.

AdAge writer, Brian Steinberg, concludes that these elongated commercials will change the TV advertising landscape in both price and time variables. Welt wonders, though, whether longer ads may become just as redundant as the existing 15 second spots. We agree that the landscape may shift to longer and documentary-focused advertisements, and that there will most certainly be an effect on Network pricing once this happens; however, will this change be permanent? The examples we cited above were extremely well executed – and we beg the question, how many brands can actually pull this off?

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