WORKSHOP: Case Study - Depaul Trust has first taste of VODKA

JOHN PLUMMER

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Background: TV is a great way to emotionally involve people in a cause but viewing can be a somewhat passive experience.

Interactive TV can make giving easier but the viewing experience doesn't differ from ordinary TV ads. Video On Demand Kind of Advertising (VODKA) is a new form of advertising, which, in layman's terms, allows the viewer to choose what happens next and donate money through their TV.

The theory is that by giving people power to control what they see, they are more likely to give.

Homelessness charity Depaul Trust became the first to trial the technology in August in a two-minute ad broadcast on Kingston Communications' interactive platform to viewers in Hull.

Aims: Although the ad was only available to a small audience, it would provide a useful case to test the effectiveness of VODKA.

Everyone involved in the production gave their time free, including the agency Publicis and the stuntman who helped out after a day spent leaping out of helicopters for the latest James Bond film. This meant the trust got a free ad worth £800,000 while Publicis and Kingston Communications could test the technology without commercial pressures. Dave Redfearn, director of fundraising at the trust, said: "We wanted to raise some money but more important than that was to increase awareness of the Depaul Trust."

How it worked The ad, which was broadcast during Midsomer Murders, traces the descent into homelessness of a young man called Paul. Returning home, his mother has been beaten by her partner and after a scuffle he is thrown out of the house. At this point, the viewer is confronted with the choice of reporting the man to the police or going to stay with friends. After pressing a button on their remote, the film advances down separate storylines until once again the viewer is asked to decide what to do. All roads lead to the street and at the end viewers are urged to make a donation.

Results: Ten per cent of people watching Midsomer Murders on Kingston Communications' interactive platform chose to interact with the ad. Of those who took part, 10 per cent donated money meaning that 1 per cent of viewers pledged cash. Had the ad been broadcast nationally, the same response would have generated £390,000. Redfearn is delighted with the impact. He said: "There is no way a small charity like us could afford to pay £800,000 on an ad so I think it will initially be for charities like Oxfam or the NSPCC. I think it will work well for them."

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