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KFC gets ad exposure in the blink of an eye

KFC, the fried chicken chain, pulled off a recent advertising coup when it embraced DVR technology using a new kind of television spot.

The fast food company ran an ad that inserted a single frame that contained a code word — Buffalo — which viewers could use to claim a coupon for a free KFC “Buffalo Snacker” chicken sandwich.

The story of the ad, which ran nationally from Feb. 23 to March 3 on network and cable channels, was reported last week by the Wall Street Journal. Only viewers who used a DVR or an analog videocassette recorder to slow the ad and watch it frame by frame could see the code.

To alert viewers 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.

The ABC network refused to air the spot on the grounds that it was subliminal advertising.

Did the idea work? KFC thinks so. About 103,000 people claimed “Buffalo Snacker” coupons after entering the hidden code on KFC's Web site, the company said. Furthermore, the publicity prompted an increase in the number of people visiting KFC's Web site. In the weeks the ad ran, the site drew 2.75 million page views, 40 percent more than the amount of traffic it usually gets over a similar period of time.

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