Wall Street Journal reports that KFC successfully used a form of subliminal advertising to drive traffic to its stores.
The fast-food chain’s spot was designed to circumvent Madison Avenue’s latest nemesis: digital video recorders that make it easy for viewers to skip ads. A single frame contained a code word — “Buffalo” — which viewers could use to claim a coupon for a free “Buffalo Snacker” KFC chicken sandwich. Only viewers who used their DVR, or an analog video cassette recorder, to slow the ad and watch it frame by frame could see the code.
To ensure viewers would know when to pause their DVRs, KFC announced details of when the ad would run — including in which programs, such as Fox’s “24” and CBS’s “Survivor.” That ensured the spot got lots of publicity: 250 mentions in the media, KFC estimates, including from some TV stations that ran the commercial free as part of a news report.
Did the idea work? KFC thinks so. Roughly 103,000 people claimed “Buffalo Snacker” coupons after entering the hidden code on KFC’s Web site, the fast-food chain says.