LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Colonel Sanders' herbs-and-spices secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken is still safely locked away, but the chain unveiled a TV ad yesterday that allows viewers to crack a hidden message if they play the spot back slowly on a digital video recorder or VCR.
The gimmick is aimed at countering the rise of technology that enables television viewers to skip past commercials faster than ever before.
''This is taking the exact opposition approach -- rewarding viewers for taking the time to engage and be interactive with television," said Tom O'Keefe, an executive at Foote Cone & Belding, the advertising agency that created the spot for KFC Corp.
For those savvy enough to solve the secret, the prize is a coupon for KFC's sauce-drenched Buffalo Snacker chicken sandwich. The 99-cent Snacker debuted a year ago and is credited in KFC's earnings rebound.
''We're trying to create a little fun," said Scott Bergren, chief marketing officer at KFC, a unit of Yum Brands Inc.
The ads will air on NBC's Winter Olympic telecasts and other networks. The secret message explaining how to redeem the free sandwich offer is planted in just a few of the spot's frames and revealed when replayed in slow motion.
''To the naked eye, it's a typical KFC television commercial," Bergren said.
KFC said the ads featuring the secret message will run nationally until March 3.