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Ted Baker and Google reinvent window shopping by making you say weird things in public

Choosing and buying clothes by staring at racks in a store is about to get old. Old and really, really boring, because fashion brand Ted Baker is using tech to promote its 2016 autumn and winter lines. It’s in a way we’ve never seen before, and although part of it includes uttering bizarre coded phrases out loud in the street, you’re definitely going to want to give it a try.

The company has been working with Google and creative agency Poke on a world-first application of Voice Search, the familiar feature baked into every Android smartphone, and through the Google app available for iOS. Here’s how it works. You’re walking past Ted Baker’s boutique, Selfridges in London, or Nordstrom’s in America, and spot an odd phrase printed in the Ted Baker window display. Think the weird “The owls are not what they seem” clue given to Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks and you’ll be about right.

Related: You can now go on a shopping spree in a VR shopping mall

Whip out your phone, fire up voice search, and say the phrase. Here’s where it gets clever, as the first link returned will be specially created for you, and direct the browser to special offers, competition prizes, and the chance to unlock special Ted Baker products. Geofences will be used to make sure you’re actually visiting a store, and not sitting on the couch at home, plus the phrases will have a built-in expiry date. It’s the first time Google has used its voice search system for the fashion industry this way.

Why are there odd, clue-like phrases? It’s all linked to the other part of the campaign, and it’s here that shopping for clothes really breaks away from the traditional methods. Ted Baker, working with Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie and directors Crowns & Owls, has come up with something called a “shoppable” film, where an interactive element means when a shirt worn by an actor in Ted Baker’s specially made short film catches your eye, the chance to buy it is just a tap or two away. It’s like Amazon’s X-Ray feature, but instead of highlighting an actor’s career, it’s your chance to dress like them. The clues are part of the film’s plot, and vice versa.

Keep on shopping

Ted Baker’s campaign sounds like a lot of fun, and you can check out the trailer for Mission Impeccable — the shoppable short film — above, but there’s a serious side to all this. Online shopping is exploding in popularity, while retail sales are dropping, plus up to 80 percent of the time mobile devices are being used to browse store websites. Getting us to use our phones in the proximity of a store to unlock goodies, while also encouraging online sales using innovative movies, seems to cover all the bases needed to keep us interested in shopping both on the high street and online.

If you’re keen to start saying bizarre things to your phone in public, the campaign will be underway soon at the stores mentioned above. The complete short film, with all the shoppable elements, will soon be on Ted Baker’s website.