Illusionist Keith Barry stars in TV3 ShowPal ad

Broadcaster hopes audience will be hypnotised by viewing companion app

A still from Ogilvy & Mather’s television ad for TV3 companion app ShowPal, featuring illusionist Keith Barry

A still from Ogilvy & Mather’s television ad for TV3 companion app ShowPal, featuring illusionist Keith Barry


ShowPal, TV3’s viewing companion app, is available from the App Store from today and an advertising campaign by the broadcaster’s creative agency, Ogilvy & Mather Dublin, has been launched to encourage second-screeners to download it.

Developed in partnership with TV3 by Irish technology firm Axonista, ShowPal uses audio watermarking to deliver related content, gaming and advertising to viewers as they watch peak-time shows.

Additional programme information, real-time polls and competitions will be served up to the audience in sync with the on-screen action, with product discounts and on-air giveaways offered as an incentive to use the app.

A 40-second television ad featuring illusionist Keith Barry, produced by Piranha Bar and shot in TV3’s Sony HD studio, will debut in the Emmerdale ad break tonight, and is also due to run during The Great Irish Bake Off and Tonight with Vincent Browne.

“TV mentalist” Barry is set to be a key “face” of TV3, with the studio-based series Keith Barry: Brain Hacker lined up for its 2014 schedule.

The ShowPal ad will be backed up by a series of promotional stings and on-screen prompters, as well as a “heavyweight” digital and social media presence. The “six-figure” campaign will run between now and Christmas, with a fresh burst of promotional activity pencilled in for the first quarter of 2014, ahead of the app’s launch on Android devices in the spring.

Engaging viewers
Stephen Grant, TV3 Group’s director of online and head of ShowPal, said the broadcaster had decided to use the Barry-starring television ads as a way of “engaging” viewers with the “magic” of the app, rather than serving as an “instructional” guide. TV3 presenters from Karen Koster to Vincent Browne will also be plugging the app on air, he said.

Special effects experts Piranha Bar used green-screen techniques to film the ad, with a “coliseum” of television sets and information graphics built around Barry in post-production. The most important element in the commercial, according to Piranha Bar director Richard Chaney, is “the information pods that visually bring to life the extraction of information from the television shows, and the analysis and editorial process that the information goes through within the ShowPal team”.

TV3 has formed a team of four people to push out links and other content via the app, beginning with Xposé at 6pm and running until midnight.

Companion apps such as ShowPal are a way for broadcasters to take some control over viewers’ second-screening habits, allowing them to collect data on audience behaviour. TV3 has showcased the app to other media companies who may be interested in adapting Axonista’s technology for their own purposes.