Interactive TV has been a hot topic since the days of Friends, when TV and brand executives dreamed of the day when viewers could click on the screen and just by using a remote control, buy Jennifer Aniston's sweater.
Fast forward to today, when Target announced on its A Bullseye View blog that they’ll be releasing their first-ever shoppable film, starring Kristen Bell, Nia Long and Zachary Abel, in three five-minute webisodes starting Oct 2. The online foray into branded entertainment is set at Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis in a romantic comedy titled (in a seasonal pun) “Falling for You.”
Besides its stars (who play Target marketing execs) and Target HQ, the scripted short film (directed by Emmy-nominated Mad Men director Phil Abraham) features Target’s more than 100 home, beauty and fashion items from the store's fall season that can be purchased directly from the video without interruption.
Bell and Abel compete in the film to create a campaign for the Target fall collection, with the winning idea debuting on Oct. 10 at a live event in New York City, according to the New York Times. The film will be released in three five-minute episodes on October 2nd, 4th and 9th at Target.com/FallingforYou and will stay online through October 31st. The live-stream event from NYC will run on Oct. 10 along with a special performance event.
The click-to-buy interactivity in the film, designed by the Minneapolis office of digital agency Space150, will display items featured in the video on a sidebar on the right-hand side of the video screen. Users can click on a “heart” icon to purchase the item and on a “share” button to post to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Billy Jurewicz, the CEO of Space150, told the Times that while the video was meant to encourage shopping and sharing content, the sharing and shopping tools were purposely left to the side of the main screen so they would not interfere with the video. “We want to keep it a little bit more authentic and a bit in the background,” he said.
Co-star Kristen Bell described the rise of branded-content and product placement as “a necessary investment” needed to get the financing for creative projects. “You can’t really just sell entertainment any more because no one will pay for it,” she told the Times.
She also described “Falling for You” as “less pushy” than product placement or traditional television spots, adding that “I do think that as actors we have to understand the fact that no one watches commercials any more.”
Below, take a look at Target's real fall campaign, directed by Feist's video director Patrick Daughters: