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Bar codes, the tiny black and white boxes that have been popping up in magazines, on posters and on some billboards, are arriving on television.
From the comfort of their sofas, mobile-phone users can scan a bar code embedded in commercials on certain evening shows on Bravo and instantly obtain additional information about a product and a discount to buy it. The 45-second commercials by the online fashion retailer Bluefly show snippets of its “Closet Confessions” interviews with designers and celebrities like Bethenny Frankel, who appeared on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” and the Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir.
When the cellphone is pointed at the on-screen bar code, the user is linked to a complete closet-baring episode, which can run as long as five minutes, and offered a $30 discount on a $150 purchase at bluefly.com, which sells designer and other branded clothing and accessories. “We see this as a great way to expand our audience in a measurable way,” said Bradford Matson, Bluefly’s chief marketing officer. “This is new for us, but we expect our page views to double.”
“For now, this is a clever way to make the commercial last longer,” said Philip Warbasse, chief executive of Warbasse Design, based in Santa Monica. “It’s in its infancy now but within a year or two, this will be mainstream with bar codes becoming the preferred method for television advertisers to deliver extras to interested viewers.”