H&M Brings Beckham's Undies To Super Bowl, With Twist

If fast-fashion leader H&M has its way, America may spend the Super Bowl eating guacamole and buying David Beckham’s underpants. The Swedish company is running an ad for the spring collection of its David Beckham Bodywear line during the game’s second quarter, using an innovative “t-commerce” option, available to those with certain Samsung smart TV sets.

The 30-second spot is an industry first, claims H&M, launching an H&M t-commerce boutique in the ShopTV marketplace. Samsung and Delivery Agent, the company behind the technology, are set to preview it this week at the International CES show this week in Las Vegas.

“It’s all very much a part of building an omnichannel strategy,” says Gabe Greenberg, Delivery Agent’s chief strategy officer. “We’ve seen through our research that the second screen, either a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop, is a big part of how viewers consumer content.” Allowing them to make purchases from their primary screen, using their actual TV remote, “is a way to give them more options.” 

H&M, which launched the Beckham Collection back in the big game of 2012, was “thrilled with the results of our first foray into the Super Bowl, and we strongly believe in this platform to launch the Spring collection of David Beckham Bodywear,” a spokesperson tells Marketing Daily, via email. But the company, which only introduced its U.S. e-commerce site last summer, is mum on whether this Beckham spot will lead to more t-commerce ads. “We are focused on the Super Bowl campaign and cannot comment on our long-term plans,” she says, “nor our future plans with t-commerce. 

Some observers dismiss the new spot as a stunt. “It's a gimmick for PR value for both H&M and Samsung,” says Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, “and way too niche. How many people even own a Samsung Smart TV and will be watching it during the Super Bowl and will be interested in buying underwear promoted by David Beckham?”

She tells Marketing Daily, also via email, that she doubts the point is to sell via remote. “It's a nice add to a campaign they would have pushed for other reasons anyway,” she says, “and a nice way for H&M to have a company with deep pockets like Samsung probably subsidize some part of the investment.”

Others expect that as consumers buy more smart TVs, such offerings will become more common. “This is a prelude of things to come,” says Penny Gillespie, Gartner’s research director for digital commerce. “As we get deeper into the Internet of things, TV may be one more channel consumers use to shop.”

Of course, H&M’s approach raises lots of questions. For one thing, she says, it lacks the power of personalization that typically makes digital commerce so effective. For another, it might be better suited to either a European audience, or an American football player—let’s say RGIII or Tom Brady—running around in his skivvies. And, as with any Super Bowl ad, there’s always the risk that the company won’t recoup the estimated $4 million cost of entry to the Super Bowl party. Of course, if the technology doesn’t work, it would be disastrous. 

“But this is a brand that appeals to a young, Gen Y audience, and if nothing else, the spot sets the stage for them being perceived as a very innovative brand,” Gillespie says.

H&M is supporting the launch with a Facebook sweepstakes, which will include Super Bowl tickets, and the chance to meet Beckham. And the soccer star is also scheduled to make his first in-store appearance, in New York’s Times Square H&M.

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