Brand: GE Ecomagination (General Electric)
Link: Click Here
Rating: */*** (DVR/PR)
GE teams up with BBDO to answer the question – how can we deal with the TiVo/DVR crowd that routinely skips through advertisements? The answer in this case is to embed a commercial within a commercial. Now running in the last one second of the GE Ecomagination spot ‘Singing in the Rain’ featuring Elli the dancing elephant, the first GE One Second Theatre uses the frame-by-frame advance feature of DVRs (or VCRs, although that seems even less likely) to allow time-shifting television watchers to get background info on Elli and the cast from the commercial. These stills give some tongue-in-cheek trivia for the elephant suggesting, for instance, that Elli appeared in a teenage exploitation film called ‘Don’t touch that trunk.’
We applaud the basic thought at work here. It is a good sign when a traditional company and an ad agency are thinking actively about a problem which affects only about a tenth of their users. TiVo and other DVRs are a growing phenomenon, however, and it makes good sense to try to find creative ways to make advertising more appealing to these audiences who may be more prone to ad-skipping than traditional television viewers (although some evidence disputes this).
The solution in this case is something DVD watchers may be familiar with – an Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is hidden content on a DVD that can be unlocked if consumers know where to look. It may be cast bios, an extra deleted scene or a featurette, but many DVDs have them. The GE Ecomagination easter egg is just a bunch of stills in the last one second (60 frames) of the standard Ecomagination television commercial.
This ‘One Second Theater’ also functions as PR. In fact, in the view of this advertising blog, the campaign is more effective as PR than as advertising. Being the first to loudly proclaim a solution to the DVR trap gives GE some halo in the business community as an innovator (and let’s not forget that many of GE’s products are sold business-to-business.)
While we like the idea of building advertising solutions for DVRs, we are not sure that the GE One Second Theater is a big idea when it comes to advertising. Instead of creating something that really uses the DVRs core functionality to some advantage (interactivity and the rich viewing data that could allow targeted advertising), One Second Theater is more like a sleight of hand that feels more gimmicky than substantial. In fact, as the frames of one second theater are in plain sight but just running too fast for the eye to behold, it could technically be considered subliminal advertising.
We certainly hope that GE and BBDO will take the next step and design some real innovation for the DVR generation. TiVo has shown that audiences will voluntarily watch targeted advertising if it is relevant. Unfortunately, the DVR era is being defined as much by hardware manufacturers as real marketers, and the TiVo level of marketign savvy is conspicuously absent from the DVRs that many consumers rent from their cable or satellite companies. But the hardware is still there and should allow for some clever advertiser to concoct richer content.
A far more interesting trick would be to take a 60 second spot and make it a 10 or 20 second spot so that it plays normally at FF speed on a TiVo or other DVR. That at least would cause a bigger PR stir and get the attention of those who are not already looking – a big improvement on One Second Theater which requires some concentration and expert use of the remote control.
Branding Bottom Line:
We missed that One Second Theater but feel a strange desire for popcorn.