Unilever, P&G turn to interactive ads

17 November 2009

NEW YORK: Major advertisers such as Unilever, Burger King and Procter & Gamble are making heightened use of interactive TV advertising as they seek to take a targeted approach to connecting with consumers.

Unilever, the FMCG giant, has previously run over 40 interactive efforts for a broad range of brands across its portfolio, which includes Knorr, Dove and Hellmann's.

One of its most recent offerings was for Axe deodorant, following on from research that found some of its target audience of young men were not sure how best to apply the body spray.

The execution featured Adam Jones, a motorcross rider, putting on some Axe in the midst of a motorbike stunt called "Double Pits to Chesty", a description of the way the product should be worn.

During the spot, an on-screen message invited viewers to turn over to Channel 115 to "learn the move", as well as to access a range of other relevant material.

This included a discussion about the stunt performed by Jones, a virtual game allowing users to recreate it using their remote control, and further information about Axe.

According to the consumer goods manufacturer, this feature had a potential audience of 60 million DirecTV and Dish Network households.

In a period of a few weeks, it was accessed by 3.5 million of this group, members of which spent an average of five minutes exploring this content.

"That kind of engagement with consumers leads to sales," said Rob Master, media director, North America, for Unilever.

"It's the digital online experience, but you get it on your big-screen TV. We are very bullish on interactive ads," he added.

Other examples of the Anglo-Dutch group's activity in this area include a game for Breyers ice cream, developed for Dish Network households, which challenged players to match up scoops of ice cream and create their own different servings.

Procter & Gamble also backed Charmin with an interactive campaign in July this year, based on a tie-up with TiVo, the DVR service.

While the commercial for the toilet paper brand was on air, a green thumb was displayed on the right-hand edge of the screen, encouraging viewers to "apply now for a valuable coupon from Charmin."

Selecting this icon effectively paused the show the consumer was watching, and took them to a page via which they could request a coupon be sent to them by post, before their programme resumed again.

Similarly, Burger King is set to introduce a new interactive spot on DirecTV, as part of its tie-up with the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

People watching the ad can access a quiz about the movie, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer, via their remote handset.

As previously reported, Cablevision has already rolled out a trial targeted ad service in New York, while Unilever and Gillette, P&G's shaving brand have also signed up to an interactive system introduced by the company.

Comcast reported that interactive advertising delivered $15 million (€10.0m; £9.0m) of revenues in the last quarter, and estimated that half of its 24 million subscribers will be able to receive this form of communications in the near future.

The cable operator is also said to be in talks to acquire NBC Universal from General Electric, a tie-up which analysts suggest could speed up the development of addressable advertising.

Stephen Burke, Comcast's coo, has also argued that "the big number will be generated when the industry gets together and allows a national advertiser the ability to advertise acr

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff