Sunday, December 17, 2006

Subliminable advertising; or, "RATS": Those of us who made it through the 2000 campaign would remember the infamous subliminal-advertising spot the Bush campaign ran. I never put much credence in the claim. But someone resurrected the idea for use with TiVo. Kentucky Fried Chicken ran a spot where the "hidden" message wasn't visible to the naked eye, and which wasn't subliminal, but which could be viewed if the commercial were viewed frame-by-frame, with a TiVo. It was a code for a free sandwich:

In February, Kentucky Fried Chicken showed on prime-time and cable networks an unusual television commercial. To the naked eye, it didn’t look terribly radical: a few firefighters sitting around the station cracking wise about dinner. But if you’d received one of KFC’s viral e-mail messages or read any of the 21 newspaper articles that ran the first day of the promotion, you knew the spot contained a hidden message. To access it, you could use your TiVo or any other DVR device to scroll through the ad frame by frame, eventually finding the one bearing the secret code that, when entered into KFC’s Web site, earned you a coupon for a free Buffalo Snacker — the crispy chicken sandwich that inspired the whole game.

A lot of bother, perhaps, if you’re a busy person without much time. But KFC had someone else in mind: 18-to-34-year-old males with tight budgets and a marked devotion to electronics. “In the tech-savvy world of fast communication and blogging, word spread quickly,” says Tom O’Keefe, chief creative officer at the ad agency DraftFCB in Chicago, who made the spot. “It was the cool club to be in.”

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