The promise of interactive TV (which dates back to "Wouldn't it be great to click on Jennifer Aniston's sweater in Friends and order it?") is now a step closer. Bravo TV is now running Bluefly's online series Closet Confessions in preparation for holiday shopping.
The series is a simple marriage of celeb gawking and shopping lust, offering breezy sneak peeks inside celebrities' closets. "It really is a piece of entertainment in an ad slot," says Bluefly CMO Bradford Matson. "We resisted saying, 'You can get all this at Bluefly,' because that's not the point. The reason we like television is we can measure the impact of television better than we can print."
The 45-second commercials include interviews with designers and celebrities such as Bethenny Frankel, fashion designer Christian Siriano, Nicky Hilton, model/DJ Harley Viera Newton, publicist (and Bravo star) Kelly Cutrone, and ice skater (and fur fanatic) Johnny Weir.
Smartphone users can scan a QR bar code embedded in each video to download product information and an all-important incentive: a discount to purchase it, all without leaving home. For example, viewers might receive a $30 discount on a $150 purchase at bluefly.com.
It’s been nearly three decades since IBM employee George Laurer was tasked with designing a system of codes and symbols to maximize the grocery industry’s efficiency. The UPC barcode was made famous when President George Bush attended a grocer’s convention in 1988 and allegedly showed surprise at seeing supermarket scans for the first time, showing how out-of-touch he was with the average American.
Bravo’s campaign uses QR, short for quick response, codes to connect users wirelessly to websites, photos or videos via Scanbuy software.
“Using bar codes is starting to spread because more people are using smartphones, and many of those phones have the scanning application to read the codes,” said Michael Becker, managing director for North America of the Mobile Marketing Association, to the New York Times.
“They are simple and quick to use and they trigger a richer, quicker and more interactive experience for the user.”
Bluefly is the first national retailer to insert bar codes in television commercials, but HBO and the Weather Channel have given the technology test runs. A Weather Channel promotion offered viewers access to deeper local data by downloading an Android phone app resulting in an increase of 20%.
HBO promoted the third season of True Blood in the final episode of ABC’s Lost series. The bar code was an on-brand red and black… with, of course, a drop of blood.
“For now, this is a clever way to make the commercial last longer. It’s in its infancy now but within a year or two, this will be mainstream with bar codes becoming the preferred method for television advertisers to deliver extras to interested viewers,” said Philip Warbasse, whose firm designed the code.
Shopping orders on Bluefly have increased on average by 50%, from $300 to $450, since Closet Confessions launched. “We have added new style stars after the Web video series was so successful. We got a half-million page views the first month we launched it. Closet Confessions is custom-made for the fashion obsessed,” added Matson.
Out of the closet and onto the TV screen… shopping just got even easier as brands and e-commerce make the jump from the TV screen to viewers' living rooms.