CBS Promotes Fall Lineup With Bluetooth

How can a marketer grab a person’s attention in a place already teeming with sights, sounds and motion?

CBS is betting the answer is with more sights, sounds and motion – beamed to mobile handsets with Bluetooth technology.

The television network today announced plans for a new interactive marketing campaign that will use Bluetooth-enabled billboards at New York’s Grand Central Terminal train station to beam video clips from its fall primetime lineup to the Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, smart phones and PDAs of harried commuters — but only if they “Accept.”

The campaign, which begins Labor Day weekend and lasts through September, will promote the network’s four new primetime series – “Shark,” “Smith,” “Jericho” and “The Class” — as well as the continuing primetime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Each show will have its own billboard, for a total of five, located in Grand Central’s upstairs corridor and on its Subway level. Bluetooth phone-toting passersby will receive a message from the billboard on their phone’s screen that asks, “Would you like to know more from CBS?” Pressing the corresponding “Accept” button will begin the download of a 30-second video clip from the billboard to the phone, where it can be viewed and then deleted or saved. The download should take about 20 seconds. But the cellphone must be within a radius of 30 to 35 feet away from the billboard and must be set to “discoverable to all” mode, explains Patrick Nagle, chief marketing officer of Kameleon Technologies, the Paris-based company whose MobiZone FREE technology is powering the CBS billboards.

“It’s using sight, sound and motion [to] sample our programming,” explained George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group. This is the best way to sample a TV show, he said, adding that everybody likes a free sample.

CBS will gauge the success of the campaign partly by counting the number of video clips that are downloaded from the Bluetooth billboards. But this won’t be the only yardstick, Schweitzer said. The network will also have “spotters’ at Grand Central to see how many people simply stop and look at the billboards at different times of day. “If it doesn’t work, it’s an experiment. If it works, then it will become a regular thing,” he said.

“I would be shocked that it wouldn’t have positive impact,” said Greg Stuart, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau in New York. “This is a perfect product demo. When the ad becomes the content, I think it works perfectly.”

CBS says it is the first television network to integrate Bluetooth wireless technology in a billboard. However, the strategy has been used by other marketers earlier. Land Rover earlier this summer posted a Bluetooth-enabled billboard in Times Square, to promote its LR3 sport utility vehicle. The billboard, which recently came down, also offered video clip downloads to cellphones.

Land Rover’s billboard was not powered by the Kameleon technology, said Nagle. Rather, it utilized a competing technology named BlueCasting from a U.K.-based firm named Filter.

“The Land Rover target is technologically savvy and reaching them through their Bluetooth-enabled devices allowed us to speak to them in a unique way,” said a Land Rover spokesperson of that effort. “A Bluetooth program incorporating a billboard also allowed us to add a degree of interactively to an otherwise static medium.”

Nagle said Kameleon will be engaged in other U.S. deployments of Bluetooth-enabled billboards in September and October in conjunction with billboard owners CBS Outdoor, Cemusa, ClearChannel and J.C. Decaux.

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