CLOSE-UP: CRAFT ISSUE/INTERACTIVE TV COMMERCIALS - Blink is banking on getting a head start in interactive TV, Lisa Campbell explains

Blink Productions made history last week by becoming the first UK production house to launch an interactive commercials company.

Blink Productions made history last week by becoming the first UK

production house to launch an interactive commercials company.



Sleeper, a joint venture with the digital design outfit Deepend, aims to

produce interactive communications for any platform, from digital TV to

the internet. Headed by Mark Iremonger from the brand communications

company Maritz Communications, it promises to make creativity, not

technology, the essence of its work.



’Deepend has always been about brand communications - the technology

itself should be as invisible as possible,’ Peter Beech, the managing

director of Deepend, says.



James Studholme, the managing director of Blink, adds: ’We want to

produce the kind of work that will win Pencils.’



The pair are keen to stress the creative nature of the company in a bid

to get advertising creatives on board. They recognise that, although

clients and media owners are embracing the changes, interest within ad

agency creative departments is limited.



’The creative industry’s low opinion of the interactive arena is driven

by their poor experiences of the technology - they feel constrained by

it. But there will be seismic changes in the next 12-24 months, which

will present huge creative opportunities,’ Beech says.



What these changes are, the pair cannot say. ’It’s hard to say what our

offering is. What we can say is that TV commercials are a monologue and

we want to find a way to provide a mainstream dialogue,’ Studholme

explains.



Educating and stimulating creatives appears to be a tough task. Although

many look at the new venture with interest, a wait-and-see attitude

still prevails. One senior figure even suggested that it was a publicity

stunt: ’It’s like when everyone rushed to get a website up, and once

they did, they didn’t know what to do with it.’



Adrian Harrison, the managing director of RSA Films, also questions

whether the launch is premature. ’No-one quite knows how it’s all going

to work out. In some respects, Blink is clever in launching early but

there are still questions that need to be answered.’



A similar situation exists in the US, where only a handful of production

companies are gearing up for the digital revolution.



John Kamen, a co-proprietor at @radical.media, is one of the few who has

been operating an ’emerging media’ department for some years. He argues

that it’s good to get in quick.



’You can’t apply the traditional production company model to new media.

There is no money to be made in just providing the resources. The key is

in providing original content.’



Despite the fact that some ad agencies - such as Grey, BMP DDB, HHCL &

Partners and Bartle Bogle Hegarty - are entering the digital arena and

despite the criticism about its timing, Studholme remains confident.



He explains: ’It won’t happen overnight - hence the name Sleeper - but

you can’t step into this in two years’ time. You have to earn your

position.’