Novak DjokovicFrench Open Tennis Championships, Friday Practice , Roland Garros, Paris, France - 24 May 2019

Three weeks after unveiling Shoppable TV, a new offering that blends television and e-commerce, NBC Universal launched its first official project under the initiative — a Lacoste shopping experience during the 2019 French Open from Roland-Garros.

The “on-air shoppable moment” will air during televised matches featuring Novak Djokovic, the Serbian tennis star and Lacoste brand ambassador. The model works via QR codes that show up during the broadcast, so viewers can scan them with their mobile devices and go immediately online to browse or buy. The transactions are handled directly on Lacoste’s web site.

“We are thrilled to officially launch Shoppable TV by pairing two iconic brands: Lacoste and the French Open,” said Josh Feldman, executive vice president, head of marketing and advertising creative of NBC Universal. “For the first time ever, tennis fans can shop the Lacoste x Novak Djokovic Collection while watching him play in real time.”

Coordinated in advance, the athlete’s outfits — in bright orange, and black and white — come from the French sportswear line. The idea is to give consumers immediate opportunities to shop them or other items in the collection.

The French Open comes as Djokovic marks his anniversary as the face of Lacoste, a role he assumed in May 2017 after previously representing Uniqlo. Given the timing, the effort to turn it into a commerce opportunity seems somewhat fitting, if perhaps a bit risky. One viewer’s exciting shopping opportunity could be another’s intrusive distraction to one of the tennis world’s biggest tournaments.

That means the Lacoste campaign may be a key litmus test for Shoppable TV, as well as any similar concepts from a television industry still figuring out its place in a cord-cutting, e-commerce-oriented world.

If viewer reaction skews negative, it could force some tweaks to the model or even sink the offering. But if it’s good, it may indeed be “just the beginning,” as Feldman believes.

“Whether it’s sports fans eager to rep their favorite player or team, or pop-culture followers inspired to try the latest trend, Shoppable TV will revolutionize the way millions of viewers will watch television and transform favorite shows and major events into opportunities for commerce,” he said.

That would surely please NBC Universal, not to mention its partner brands and advertisers. And it makes sense for sporting events like golf or tennis, as athletes regularly ink endorsement deals or promote their own apparel or footwear lines.

It may be dicier for the entertainment industry, though. Studios employ legions of stylists, costumers and designers, and their wardrobe choices are often part of the storytelling. Some even rise to the level of iconic looks that define an entire decade or generation. No one wants to see the budding genius of the next Nolan Miller or Patricia Fields snuffed out by the dictates of advertisers.

But a lot depends on how the deals are structured — and whether or not Shoppable TV gains traction, now that it’s officially on the court.

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