Editor's comment: Red button's valuable legacy

LONDON - The marketing director of a car company once told me he loved the 'clunkiness' of interactive TV because it meant consumers persistent enough to watch his red-button ads really wanted to buy.

His opinion was not shared by many, though; in an age of iPhones and 50Mb broadband, iTV looked like a redundant option for brand-owners.

With this is mind, last week Sky decided to pull the plug on its red-button service, nearly a decade after Unilever ran the first iTV commercial.

As we explore on page 15, the great time and expense associated with bringing a red-button ad to air were rarely outweighed by the benefits of allowing consumers to watch an extended version of the TV spot or book a test-drive.

It's no surprise, then, that Sky has called time on red-button ads. What is hard to believe, however, is that it has taken an organisation renowned for its commercial rigour so long to acknowledge that it has been flogging a dead horse.

Red-button advertising has been perceived as clunky ever since 56k modems were superseded. It has consistently failed to generate worthwhile revenue and most of the brands brave enough to try it have long since reinvested elsewhere.

However, all this time Sky has had its eye on a far bigger prize. Red-button technology may have been fundamentally flawed, but over the years it has conditioned both brands and consumers to expect something more from TV - something beyond the usual passive viewing experience.

Now, with Sky's green-button service allowing viewers to call up ads whenever they choose and broadband-enabled set-top boxes becoming the norm, iTV will finally be able to live up the hype.

Red-button ads will ultimately be assigned to the scrapheap along with Teletext, but should be remembered as a crucial stepping stone on the path to a rich iTV future.

 

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad
Powerade launches global World Cup campaign
Burberry's flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes
Subway considers taking fast food to fast lane with F1 sponsorship
Ikea splurges 'grey' Belgium with colour
Grim outlook for Tesco boss Philip Clarke ahead of expected profits fall
Thomson to create first crowd-sourced wedding decided by Facebook fans
Currency wars meets origami in Alpari FX trading ad campaign
Amazon rumoured to launch 3D smartphone in September
Facebook to allow European users to store and transfer money on site, claims report
Unilever pilots multi-brand advertising with YouTube beauty channel
Lego, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter, Bitcoin and AOL: the digitally creative brands
Dove tries to tell women their beauty is innate through placebo patches
Wonga faces social media storm after forcing Twitter to remove satirical material