Shop Direct: 'A VERY different partnership'


The way we consume media is changing, and with the power of second screen the gap between inspiration and purchase is closing. After all, if you see something you like on TV you can now jump on your iPad and instantly find out more. Or in cases like our campaign for, instantly buy what you see.  

In order to take advantage of this trend, evolved the way it planned and bought media to work in collaboration with Carat, Amplifi (the Dentsu Aegis Network trading model) and Northern & Shell to activate a long-running strategic partnership with Big Brother that would create a real-life shop-window for this virtual brand. 

Starting with the country’s biggest product placement deal (at the time) we made every

product that was featured in the Big Brother House available to buy within a ‘shoppable’ digital version of the Big Brother house using click-to-buy technology.  

By doing this we created a new shop window for and most importantly a new sales channel was discovered.

E % +++ three-figure increase CBB’s sales page saw a three-figure % increase in sessions and a significant increase in conversion vs. other non-traditional selling pages.


In a highly competitive retail market, Shop Direct Group’s needed to find a way to engage their fashion-savvy female audience and drive sales. 

As an online only retailer, they wanted to promote the breadth of product offered but having no “shop window”, they needed an innovative solution to showcase as a complete online department store, stocking everything from lipsticks to loungers, and everything in-between!


Insight from Carat’s proprietary Consumer Connection System (CCS) revealed that’s target audience are heavily influenced by television and celebrities, claim to search for products online after seeing them on TV and are also more likely to transact impulsively – so if we make it easy for them to see the fabulous range of products, they are much more likely to buy. 

Carat’s idea was to use a credible TV programme as a shop window. Big Brother was the ideal platform for innovative product integration since we knew that the programme resonated strongly with our audience, who are 88% more likely to watch than the rest of the population. Product placement enabled us to showcase a wide range of products being used in a domestic situation. 


The first stage of the collaboration between Carat, and Channel 5 kicked off with a 3-week Celebrity Big Brother series. supplied over 100 products to the Big Brother house, including clothing, furnishings and electrical goods - the biggest product placement deal in UK history (at the time). 

To maximise engagement with’s product offerings the housemates participated in a fashion makeover task, with their new looks uploaded onto both and for viewers to click-to-buy. 

All of the celebrities wore branded dressing gowns, Rylan commented on how great the range was and Ryan wore a suit during his eviction. Time-of-day shots provided close ups of our products within the editorial and the amount of times “Speidi” (Heidi and Spencer) packed their branded suitcase were too numerous to mention. 

Purchase was encouraged through a click-to-buy feature, hosted simultaneously on and, enabling viewers to virtually browse the Big Brother house and buy the featured products directly from the page. We utilised all of Northern and Shell’s platforms, including mobile, social, online, magazines and newspapers - whenever N&S wrote or transmitted Big Brother related news, were there.

E % +++ three-figure increase CBB’s sales page saw a three-figure % increase in sessions and a significant increase in conversion vs. other non-traditional selling pages.
L 1038% Increase in sales One product saw increased sales of 1038% following the placement.
U 35% Incremental Impact For Home & Furniture there was 35% incremental impact in sales vs. the category.
E 72% Increase in sales During the week of the fashion task vs. the week prior there was an 83% uplift in demand in the clothing category, and a 72% increase in sales of those products featured.

We could not have been happier with the outcome, Carat and N&S worked seamlessly together to deliver an innovative ‘click to buy’ microsite which delivered phenomenal sales growth in a period where the retail market was suffering post-Christmas blues.

Paul Ray Head of Brand Advertising,
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