Lowe, in conjunction with video-on-demand service HomeChoice, set up a dedicated channel to see if viewers would seek out commercials.
The audience was given a choice of 10 ads, all culled from Lowe's best work, including Reebok's "Sofa" and the Stella Artois epic "Devil's Island." Viewers were able to label each ad as a "turkey" or a "triumph."
"It's counter-intuitive" said Guy Lambert, Lowe board account planner. "It's difficult enough to push ads onto people, so we were skeptical about whether we could get the people to go to the ads, but we're very pleased with the positive response."
Of the HomeChoice customer base, 31% visited the channel, spending an average of nine minutes in total watching ads. Virtually every viewer went back for a second look, despite the fact the content was not refreshed regularly during the four-week trial, which wrapped up at the end of May.
%%PULLQUOTE_RIGHT%% Personal video recorders are not yet widespread in the U.K., but Lambert said, "they will penetrate eventually and change the way we watch TV…I personally don't think people will swallow advertiser-funded programming, but there are 101 potential solutions to the problem. This one came out of a simple, childlike approach."
Lowe's clients were open to the experiment. "They all said, 'it sounds bonkers, but keep us informed,'" Lambert said. "This opens the door to a whole range of new advertising possibilities such as five-minute blockbuster commercials, precision one-to-one targeting and financially incentivized advertising viewing. It could be the start of a whole new era of advertising, which is far more creative and effective than the conventional linear TV advertising of the last 50 years."
Unfortunately we will never know which spots were the most popular. "We didn't take that bit too seriously," Lambert said. "It was really just to make viewers feel a part of the process."