Itâ€™s advertising du jour in the movie and television business to use banner ads and other eyeball-catching imagery on the web to promote your new movie or TV series.
Websites, too, employing all the latest audio-visual and social media magic to make the visitor experience as clickable as possible.
Hereâ€™s something new that caught my eye from two different but related perspectives â€“ imagination and control.
The image you see here is a web ad promoting the Dollhouse TV series where the first season DVD is about to go on sale in the USA (and will do the same in the UK in mid September).
The â€œfollow Elizaâ€ part is all about Twitter. If you roll over that part of the ad (click, in fact), you get a video; if you then click on the Twitter logo at the top of the image, you see this:
Next, if you want to send a tweet to Eliza and click on the â€˜Sign in to Twitterâ€™ button, you get this:
Itâ€™s then a simple matter to type and click â€“ as this example shows, I did that and my tweet appeared in the tweetstream almost instantly:
Itâ€™s pretty imaginative, both in the concept of how Twitter is used by the TV showâ€™s marketers as an integral element in overall communication outreach, as well as the technology underlying it.
The ad was created by EyeWonder, a US company who claims a leadership role in creating interactive digital advertising content.
The Dollhouse ad Iâ€™ve written about here is from an EyeWonder demo on this page â€“ try it yourself.
So, nice imagination. Now we come to control.
Mark Levien, executive director of digital marketing at Fox Home Entertainment, the showâ€™s producer, has this (rather sterile) quote in a report in Brand Republic:
[â€¦] For ‘Dollhouse’ season one, we really wanted to engage users and give them the opportunity to become part of the ad experience. Eliza already has a loyal following, so allowing users to interact with her within an ad unit makes the brand engagement that much more relevant. With the Twitter function, we hope to foster real-time conversation among fans of the show and hopefully give those who haven’t seen it yet the opportunity to gain more insight into what it’s all about.
Hmm, if the demo indicates how the ad would work in the real world â€“ Iâ€™ve not seen it anywhere yet: have you? â€“ Iâ€™m not sure how â€œallowing users to interact with [Eliza] within an ad unit makes the brand engagement that much more relevantâ€ actually works.
For instance, if you click almost anywhere on the ad once youâ€™ve arrived at the Twitter part, you go to an Amazon.com page where the DVD is listed. Hardly interacting with Eliza, more to do with monetizing the DVD.
Not only that, thereâ€™s no means to go to Elizaâ€™s actual Twitter page and break out of the controlled confines of the ad: nowhere is Elizaâ€™s Twitter ID obviously visible.
Well, it is â€“ sheâ€™s @ElizaPatricia â€“ but I didnâ€™t make the connection with that name immediately (ok, so I havenâ€™t seen the show yet). And thereâ€™s no way you can get to that Twitter account from within the ad.
Still, Iâ€™m not going to spoil the party with more than that criticism.
I think the idea is great, and the fact that Fox are trying to connect the real person, Eliza Dushku, with fans via Twitter rather than with her fictitious character is smart.
For her part, Dushku looks like the real deal judging from the look of her tweets. No â€˜remote celebâ€™ presence on Twitter with her as her profile very clearly indicates:
Be forewarned: I’m accused of speaking my own language here.
On the contrary, too, genuine-looking comments as she connects things with her work, which she clearly has passionate views about.
Thatâ€™s the way forward for marketers, too: being genuine.