When 2013 debuted, Vines was just something Twitter bought the summer before. It debuted on in late January on iPhones and iPods and spread to Android and now there are 40 million users and Instagram now competes in the same so-called "space." I thought when it started, ‘what a stupid idea’ and thought the same thing a few months later. Now I think they're brilliant, but not necessary. Remember when Robin Williams said doing cocaine was God's way of telling you that you had too much money? I think advertisers looking for a place to cut could still eliminate Vines without shedding a tear.
But for the right moment, and the right brand, brilliant.
Clever, quick and, most of the time, totally irrelevant. A Vine is there and then not. Over and done. They’re not video clips. They’re video quips.
Christopher Ratcfiff, a writer for Econsultancy.com has put together his list of the best 15 Vine ads of the year (which also, I guess would make them the best 15 of all time!) and they are so interesting I could easily spend another 90 seconds watching all of them.
What they don’t do, of course, is sell a product you’ve never heard of, or do any kind of convincing at all, as far as I can tell. They make you feel good about a brand, which is work enough. I saw the Vine for Lowe’s (which displays a really clever way to extract a stripped Phillips screw) and I immediately felt good about Lowe’s. I saw the 6-second Vine for Tide—a quick parody of the final big scene in “Carrie” --and immediately thought better of Tide, but in the time it took me to write this, I’ve recalled—Tide’s still pretty expensive. (If brands are going to make these quick ads, they have to live with viewers’ undeep responses. That’s the game.)
Still, there is something purely pure in these ads, clear enough that you understand them, but visually interesting enough that you really want to see them again. I can’t find information that tells me how many times the average Vines video ad is viewed, but I’d bet it’s at least a half dozen or more views each. That adds up, and for a brand, that’s a powerful way to make a good impression.
“These low-budget, creative and humorous twists on the brands we know, create a personal connection with the viewer and the best of them become endlessly sharable, and live on far longer than their initial upload,” writes Ratcliff. And that’s true about the best of online video generally, it seems to me. Except for Volkswagen, very few brands dabble in self-effacing advertising. With Vines, the fact they are six-seconds long (really 6 and a half seconds, Ratcliff says) doesn’t leave an advertiser with much more time to do anything than make fun. It’s a nice situation, even if unplanned.
There are plenty of “Best of Vines” compilations out there at this time of the year—it’s a goldmine that frankly I may be sorry on Dec. 24 that I wasted on a news-rich Dec. 17. If you have an extra 198 seconds or so, I’d recommend a list of the top 33 from Mashable. There is also a 11:38 compilation the people at Gizmodo found, compiled by a guy named Gus, that puts together a "best of" user generated Vines. That one seems to me to kind of prove that even in 6 seconds (or so), videos are really all about taste.