How long is a good story? Compressed narratives in British screen advertising since 1955

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Caston, Emily
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Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
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The sixty second commercial has held a privileged status with the British television advertising industry since 1955. Recent scholarship in the useful film paradigm offers a promising starting point to analyse the design craft of the industry, as does scholarship on early advertising film. But in order to fully understand the evolution of this privileged status it is necessary to understand the conflicts that drive the different sectional parts of the tripartite supply chain and the organisations that regulate the design such as the Advertising Producers’ Association and Design and Art Direction Awards. It is also necessary to understand the use of certain devices film directors use in this compressed narrative form. Textual density is a primary one. Narrative in screen advertising remains under-researched. This article examines a range of commercials from the 1960s to the 2020s which utilise these devices to engage audiences in stories that sell brands, demonstrating some of the varied and transmedial way that narrative works across different categories of product and multi-media campaigns.
British television advertising , Commercials , Film narrative , Film history , Short form
Caston, E. (2023) 'How long is a good story? Compressed narratives in British screen advertising since 1955', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 25, pp. 69-89.