Are Sizzle Reels a Complete Waste of Everyone’s Time? The Atlantic and Errol Morris Say Yes

Ad and production pros vent about an industry-wide pet peeve

The Atlantic's branded content team, Re:think, asks industry veterans to weigh in on whether sizzle reels are worthwhile. Atlantic Re:think
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Let’s just be honest with each other: No one likes sizzle reels.

No one likes making them. No one likes updating them. Heck, no one even likes watching them. Besides breaking up the monotony of a work conference speaker lineup, they basically just take up editing time and website real estate while conveying a vague aura of “legit-ness.” (Not to be confused with legitimacy, which has no place in the world of sizzle reels.)

So when The Atlantic’s Re:think branded content studio was looking at ways to feature its work, the team decided to ask: Is it time to retire the sizzle reel?

And they started by posing the question to no less than documentary filmmaker and advertising legend Errol Morris. Why? Because they could:

Featuring a cavalcade of agency and production pros from the likes of Droga5 and The Mill, the video certainly isn’t kind to the poor, oft-flogged sizzle reel.

More to the point, the video also doesn’t offer up a concise replacement. In a meta twist, this video is itself a promotion for Re:think’s branded work, which has included longform work for Netflix, AT&T, Allstate and more. And we see some of that work near the end of the video, but to the point the interviewees are trying to make, highlights simply can’t do justice to high-quality work.

So, as the video concludes, you should check out Atlantic Re:Think’s site to see the work in its entirety.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."