Media: Hungry? Hit the Remote ; Britain's First Interactive TV Ad Has Hit Our Screens, but Will It Put Us in Control or Just Access Our Cash?
Marks, Naomi, The Independent (London, England)
The certifiable, wing-flapping housewife who sang the cheerful ditty "I feel like Chicken Tonight" to the bemused delight of TV viewers everywhere is at last able to buy her Chicken Tonight without so much as moving from the confines of her comfortable suburban sofa. Or at least she can order a money-off voucher for it, thanks to the arrival of digital interactive television advertising in the UK, pioneered by the company that used the so-awful-it-was- fabulous commercial to promote its recipe sauces.
First aired yesterday (on Sky Digital satellite) and accessed via Open (a free interactive digital TV service available to all Sky Digital subscribers), it is being hailed as a turning point in TV advertising and the beginning of a sea change in the way people use their television sets.
Not only can viewers watch an advert, they can use the technology to request product information, take part in competitions or even make a purchase there and then. The Chicken Tonight advert, for its new Stir It Up brand, uses a typically zany narrative to get its message across. But at the same time a red button in the left-hand corner of the screen encourages viewers to "Press Here", offering them the chance to zap into Open's "Creative Kitchen" by using their remote controls. Here, again using their remotes, viewers can opt to peruse on-screen recipe suggestions (complete with video-clip instructions) or go direct to ordering a money- off voucher for Stir It Up. As Sky subscribers' personal details are already registered, there's no filling in on-screen forms.
Such interactivity is being touted as the Next Big Thing in e- commerce, being a more user-friendly form for transactions than PC- based e-commerce. The Henley Centre predicts that digital television will become the dominant channel for online transactions by 2008 and a survey by BRMB International says: "Online TV shopping growth could well outstrip the rise in PC e- commerce this year."
Already Open, which is backed by BSkyB, BT, HSBC and Matsushita, offers shopping, banking and e-mail services to the 2.6 million households subscribing to Sky Digital. The online element is delivered through the telephone line linked to the digital set-top box. Open, which launched last October, claims that nearly half Sky Digital's customers access it at least once a week, with at least eight million visits made before Christmas when peak sales hit pounds 1m per week. …