When I first heard about KFC's HIdden Message campaign, I thought it was a clever way to combat the ad-skipping technologies that today put broadcast media dollars in jeopardy. The idea is simple: if viewers elect to fast-forward through the KFC ad using DVRs or VCRs, they'll see a message encouraging them to go back and watch the ad more slowly, in order to see a "secret code" that can be entered on KFC.com in exchange for coupons.
Here's a brand that is experimenting with ways to keep its message top of mind and viewer interaction at a time when traditional 30-second spots are at risk. And it appears to be working: they've had 70,000 visitors enter the coupon code, and site traffic has increased 60%.
So it's disheartening to see reports that ABC has rejected the ad due to a "long-standing policy against subliminal advertising." Instead of working with its advertiser (which, by the way, provide a gigantic revenue stream) to ensure their ad dollars are well spent, ABC is forcing KFC to run a version of the ad without the "secret" message.
I'm not sure how KFC's approach can be considered subliminal when they overtly tell viewers to seek out the code, thereby thwarting the "subconscious" nature of a truly subliminal message, but I digress. Bravo to KFC for trying something different.