Subliminal snacking at KFC

May 17, 2008

Am I coming to the party a little late or has KFC been using quasi-subliminal advertising in their new Snacker campaign?

Yes, according to a number of myth-busting sites and advertising experts, the use of subliminal advertising doesn’t work and probably doesn’t even exist. But I saw it tonight with my own eyes.

Look at this progression of photos and tell me what you see. The images are shot of my plasma TV and are all the same frozen video, just from different distances.

Bear in mind, this isn’t the same issue that KFC faced in 2006 when some of their ads were rejected by large television networks because they were deemed as subliminal.

This is the first shot from about five feet away. Yes, my TV is big. No, there is nothing wrong with having paneling in your house as long as nobody can see it. And yes, this is an unretouched photo as are the others.

Closer. You can clearly see a dollar bill – I think it’s a one-dollar bill – on the corner of the snacker sticking out of the lettuce. Let’s ponder that for a moment shall we? Lettuce = cash maybe? Cute but still very odd.

And finally the real close-up from the side. The flash washes out the image a little, but you can still see the dollar on the sandwich.

What’s going on? Did KFC’s ad agency just have some designer with an ax to grind or was it less sinister?

I remember when I was writing for COMDEX back in the early 2000’s that I urged a designer to put me into a direct-mail piece. We took a photo of me in my writer’s hat holding my mountain bike book.

Then the designer put me – a really tiny tiny tiny me – into a photo of the buildings along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. We were young and foolish, but nobody ever caught the alteration and the company that ran COMDEX has been out of business for years.

In the case of KFC, I can’t believe I’m the only person who’s caught that dollar bill floating on the snacker sandwich.

So, what’s the deal? If you’re in advertising or marketing, drop a comment on this post and let me know what you think.

My guess is that KFC did this on purpose if I was able to see the dollar. My other guess is that it was the result of some poorly thought out plan to create a buzz about ‘the dollar on the snacker’.

The only buzz it’s started here is the very strong belief that KFC needs to learn some more about media.

More to come…