One of the great things about VCR's and TiVO is that you can zoom through the commercials. I do it on a regular basis. Video tape an hour long show and get through it in less than 45 minutes. Now the only one that doesn't seem to like that savings of time are the advertisers. They must figure that they have to do something to get folks to watch the commercials and outside of the Super Bowl that is tough to do.
One of those advertisers happens to be the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The Colonel's crew in the marketing department came up with the great idea to add a hidden message to the commercials. And the hidden message would be offering free KFC food. What a brilliant idea! In order to see the hidden message, one must use their TiVO and pause or slow down the commercial midway. The hidden message is a password in order to get a coupon for their new sandwich from their website. The password is "buffalo" and the prize was a free buffalo chicken sandwich. Yes, I said "was". You see, once word got out about the ad, the limit of 75,000 winners was quickly attained.
Now, I am not sure that the advertisement and all of the hoopla was worth a 99 cent sandwich. But it accomplished what KFC attempted to do. I think the plan was get attention and hence get "more bang for their advertising buck". ABC probably did them a favor by rejecting the ad and calling attention to it. Also, KFC's web site traffic was up by 60% this past week.
ABC was the only network that refused the ad. In doing so, ABC called attention to the ad and folks watched it elsewhere. The crazy thing is that advertising of this type, with hidden or subliminal messages is not against the rules. It's just that ABC didn't think it was appropriate to air such an ad.
The last time that a subliminal ad was rejected was an ad by then Vice President Al Gore in his run for the White House in 2000. That ad was reviewed by the Federal Communication Commission who responded that they have no formal policy against subliminal ads.
The good news for businesses is that we may see more of this type of ad because of the hype. Why shouldn't advertisers jump on the bandwagon? Unless of course, they're chicken.