Unilever Ramps Up Interactive TV

Unilever U.S. is ramping up its new-media efforts with two interactive TV campaigns that let consumers choose when and how to "experience" marketing efforts for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! and Slim-Fast products.

The campaigns, via iTV specialist agency BrightLine Partners, NY, use five interactive and VOD ad platforms, including Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Cox FreeZone, Cox Interactive and the on-demand channel Music Choice. The first leg of the campaign for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! kicks off this week with an interactive TV version of the popular "Who Framed Spraychel?" campaign for the brand's spray-bottle version.

"We continually seek out ways to connect consumers to our brands in an entertaining experience when media continues to be more about individual choices and interactivity," says Jon Stimmel, director of media buying at Unilever. "This initiative will provide insight into emerging technologies while responding to an audience's desire to control how and when they watch TV."



The first elements of the "Spraychel" campaign will run for one month, during which time targeted viewers will encounter "Who Framed Spraychel?" teaser spots during programming watched by the target audience--women age 35 and up.

The spots invite viewers to click--on their TV remotes--to a fully branded Spraychel channel, where they can choose to "experience" (ie: view) clips from the brand's seven-episode saga, browse suspect profiles, respond to polls and request a free cookbook.

After the first month, the butter substitute's iTV campaign will lead into a separate "viewer experience" that shows "General Hospital" hunk Greg Vaughan learning how to cook with a chef. The campaign for Slim-Fast will run concurrently with the second leg of the butter substitute's effort, and will be similar in scope.

"There are distinct differences between the first and second legs of the campaigns," says Jacqueline Corbelli, CEO of BrightLine Partners. "The first leg revolves around episodic branded entertainment. The second leg basically offers viewers additional ways to engage with content from the brands." Slim-Fast also will have its own branded channel.

Part 2 of the non-butter product's iTV campaign will run at the same time as the Slim-Fast effort so Unilever can directly compare how consumers behave when asked to engage more deeply in a consumer food product campaign. "It's a broad-based test initiative to learn what each target market sees and what they can do with a remote control," says Corbelli.

BrightLine crafted the campaign in cahoots with Unilever and the company's roster agencies. Last year, ad spending on I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! was $12.8 million--an increase of 50.4 percent--while spending on Slim-Fast declined 10.9 percent to $38.4 million, according to Ad Age's Leading National Advertisers.

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