YouTube dares agencies to shrink classic stories into six-second ads

How does one retell “On the Origin of Species” in six seconds? Ask J. Walter Thompson, Wieden & Kennedy, Deutsch, and other video makers who took on YouTube’s request to condense some of the top classics of Western literature into its six-second video ad format at SXSW in Austin.

YouTube, together with major ad agencies, unveiled reinterpretations of “Romeo and Juliet”, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, and “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, among others. While some agencies took on the challenge in a pretty straightforward approach, some brought humor and a lot of creativity amidst the time constraint.

This was, however, not a simple test of creativity from the largest video-sharing website. It comes right after YouTube had announced its plan of phasing out its unskippable 30-second ads while keeping the six-second bumper ads. The challenge, then, is for creative agencies not to simply cut short these ads but to plan it from the start.

YouTube acknowledges these digital constraints across platforms and pushes for advertisers to come to terms with these constraints, where they may be required a vertical video, a silent video, or, in this case, crunch classic stories into six-second ads.



J. Walter Thompson

Wieden & Kennedy