Gertjan is an Art Director and Concept Provider at These Day Y&R (one of our Super Agency Members this year). He is also the co-author of a rather brilliant new idea that the Antwerp based agency are about to launch. Coming soon to a (paused) TV screen near you…

Tell us the idea in 140 characters or less

Innovative “freeze screen” on TV lets advertisers interact with pausing viewers in a static, animated or interactive way.

Where did the insight for the concept come from?

As part of a widespread audience, DTV also changed my own viewing behavior completely. It gives us full control over what we like to see and when we like to see it.. BUT also makes it a lot easier to skip ads and create our own breaks using the pause button on every DTV remote.

These self-initiated breaks have two things in common for every viewer; they happen for a certain reason (pick up the phone, visit the toilet, grab a snack, etc) and they are currently accompanied by a meaningless freeze-screen.

So we thought “why not turn this screen into an interactive and amusing media space?” This way we could help SBS, a client and one of Belgiums biggest broadcasters, with their mission to convince advertisers to keep investing in TV ads. Together with Telenet, another client and the country’s biggest Telco provider, we set things in motion.

When can we expect to see this on our television?

In the upcoming weeks, TSP Telenet is setting up a large-scale test phase for several thousands of its DTV customers.

A couple weeks later, the “Breakvertising” technology will be officially launched on all Telenet’s decoders and all channels of SBS Belgium. From that day on, the new media space will be made available for all other interested parties (broadcasters or/and TSP’s).

What have been the biggest challenges throughout the project?

At first, turning a freeze screen into a commercializable platform looked quite easy. But the challenge was to make it worth the effort. Implementing future functionalities such as interactivity and animation made it a tough one to accomplish, but exactly that aspect turned out to become very interesting in a lot of ways!

What have you learnt throughout this project?

For me, the biggest learning came when visiting an Irish pub in Ghent, after a few tough weeks on the project.

I had my first Guinness EVER and suddenly realized that eventually good things will come to those who wait.

A couple of weeks later Telenet brought us the news that technical tests looked promising and already a few of SBS’ advertisers had shown their interest in the upcoming medium.

Another learning surely is that every idea on paper will only be as big, bold and good in reality as the whole team working on it. Without the knowledge and determination of Telenet’s tech wizzards, the enthusiasm with which SBS opened the eyes of its avdertisers and the support of our agency, this kind of medium would never have seen the daylight in our country for at least a couple more years.

What other insights about television viewing did you uncover when you were researching?

A common misunderstanding is that all viewers despise ads on TV. However, through research we discovered that people don’t particularly hate the concept of advertising, just the way it “hacks” their viewing schedule.

That’s mainly the reason why we decided to keep the Breakvertising platform noiseless by nature and turn it into a potentially fun screen where brands (and others) can make the breaks of the viewers a little more amusing!

Have you seen any other interesting examples of how advertisers are responding to television viewers changes in behaviour?

Not so long ago, another Belgian ad agency tried to launch a form of advertising that stayed visible even when fast forwarding at high speed. Unfortunately the content of the ads weren’t really mindblowing as was the richness of the idea as a medium.

It did what it had to do never the less: releasing a wake-up call amoung DTV viewers that without the existance of advertising on television, watching our beloved films, programs, series and docu’s would (logically) become A LOT more expensive. Therefore there has to be a never ending search for creative and innovative alternatives that let brands and viewers walk hand in hand throughout the media landscape.

What do you think the future of television looks like?

In my own opinion, television is far from dead. New functionalities are created every day, and second screens will never have the cinematic first or “big screen” experience we all so treasure. Viewers like the thought of having their own cinema at the push of a button and will never fully give that up for a smaller, more portable but less emotional alternative. But who knows, maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.. I also “still” read the newspapers you know ????

What else is making you think ‘F**k that’s good!’ at the moment?

One piece of work that I really liked the last few days was the launch of the new IKEA catalogue in Switzerland.

Ikea (and the Swiss creatives behind the hilarious concept) let the most widely distributed “book” in the world be reviewed for the very first time, by non-less than the famous German literary critic Hellmuth Karasek. It’s really great to see how IKEA still keeps inspiring people to come up with yet another original, relevant and amusing insight to create some extra rumor around their catalogue. A very dry sense of humor, just the way we like it.

What are the most interesting things happening in Antwerp right now?

The arrival of our CEO’s Tesla model S P85D (I know he likes me to be exact when discussing this car) certainly was one of my personal highlights of the year. A true example of innovation that gets everyone salivating. Apart from that the agency just hired two (other) creative geniuses and appointed them as new creative directors.

So besides planning a coup to steal their jobs, the last weeks were very inspiring. And ow.. I heard that, this year, our city will host a festival with an even larger hipster presence than “Tomorrowland’. It’s called “Europe’s best” or something, I’ll have to check that out!

What’s the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

“Go outside and play!”

The advice came from my mother and it was given to me because of my early “indoor mentality” during holidays & weekends. But that day I did go outside, opened my eyes, ears and mind.. and I’ve been playing ever since.

Now that’s what I call life-changing advice!

Who is the best speaker that you’ve ever seen?

Internationally, Sir John Hegarty certainly tops my list when it comes to motivational speakers. This guy, in my eyes, is one of the inventors of creative advertising itself and still totally into the game. I met him a couple of weeks ago on “Founders Forum” in London and I’m strongly under the impression he is without a doubt a 20y old creative genius in disguise, fooling us all.

On a national scale, but with similar international fame, I would name Geoffrey Hantson.

The way he talks about the importance of creativity in everyone’s daily life is simply spot on.

He’s one of Belgium’s most respected creative leaders and every time I see him perform I’m reminded on why I’ve joined this crazy but oh so delicious business.