Fast editing speed and commercial performance

Charles Young

In an earlier article about the relationship between film editing speed and advertising performance, MacLachlan and Logan (1) analysed the relationship between commercial shot length and day-after-recall and persuasion. They noted a substantial increase in cutting speed or number of shots per commercial from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, so that by 1992 a typical commercial averaged 13.2 camera shots. They also pointed out that the average length of shot in commercials was much shorter than the shot length of the programmes in which they were embedded. In 641 commercials, they found a strong inverse correlation between the number of shots or cutting speed of the film and day-after-recall scores. They found a similar negative relationship between fast edit speed and persuasion scores, measured as pre/post preference shift. In addition, this relationship was relatively independent of respondent age. They concluded: 'advertisers are loading their commercials with too many camera shots, and persuasion and recall are suffering as a result'. Their advice was to reduce the number of shots in commercials.