Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hear Voices? It May Be an Ad

An A&E Billboard 'Whispers' a Spooky Message Audible Only in Your Head in Push to Promote Its New 'Paranormal' Program

NEW YORK ( -- New Yorker Alison Wilson was walking down Prince Street in SoHo last week when she heard a woman's voice right in her ear asking, "Who's there? Who's there?" She looked around to find no one in her immediate surroundings. Then the voice said, "It's not your imagination."

Indeed it isn't. It's an ad for "Paranormal State," a ghost-themed series premiering on A&E this week. The billboard uses technology manufactured by Holosonic that transmits an "audio spotlight" from a rooftop speaker so that the sound is contained within your cranium. The technology, ideal for museums and libraries or environments that require a quiet atmosphere for isolated audio slideshows, has rarely been used on such a scale before. For random passersby and residents who have to walk unwittingly through the area where the voice will penetrate their inner peace, it's another story.

Ms. Wilson, a New York-based stylist, said she expected the voice inside her head to be some type of creative project but could see how others might perceive it differently, particularly on a late-night stroll home. "I might be a little freaked out, and I wouldn't necessarily think it's coming from that billboard," she said.

Less-intrusive approach?

Joe Pompei, president and founder of Holosonics, said the creepy approach is key to drawing attention to A&E's show. But, he noted, the technology was designed to avoid adding to noise pollution. "If you really want to annoy a lot of people, a loudspeaker is the best way to do it," he said. "If you set up a loudspeaker on the top of a building, everybody's going to hear that noise. But if you're only directing that sound to a specific viewer, you're never going to hear a neighbor complaint from street vendors or pedestrians. The whole idea is to spare other people."

Holosonics has partnered with a cable network once before, when Court TV implemented the technology to promote its "Mystery Whisperer" in the mystery sections of select bookstores. Mr. Pompei said the company also has tested retail deployments in grocery stores with Procter & Gamble and Kraft for customized audio messaging. So a customer, for example, looking to buy laundry detergent could suddenly hear the sound of gurgling water and thus feel compelled to buy Tide as a result of the sonic experience.

Mr. Pompei contends that the technology will take time for consumers to get used to, much like the lights on digital signage and illuminated billboards did when they were first used. The website Gawker posted an item about the billboard last week with the headline "Schizophrenia is the new ad gimmick," and asked "How soon will it be until in addition to the do-not-call list, we'll have a 'do not beam commercial messages into my head' list?"

"There's going to be a certain population sensitive to it. But once people see what it does and hear for themselves, they'll see it's effective for getting attention," Mr. Pompei said.

More disruptions

A&E's $3 million to $5 million campaign for "Paranormal" includes other more disruptive elements than just the one audio ad in New York. In Los Angeles, a mechanical face creeps out of a billboard as if it's coming toward the viewer, and then recedes. In print, the marketing team persuaded two print players to surrender a full editorial page to their ads, flipping the gossip section in AM New York upside down and turning a page in this week's Parade into a checkerboard of ads for "Paranormal."
AM New York's gossip page got turned upside down as promo.

It's not the network's first foray into supernatural marketing, having launched a successful viral campaign for "Mind Freak" star Criss Angel earlier this year that allowed users to trick their friends into thinking Mr. Angel was reading their mind via YouTube.

"We all know what you need to do for one of these shows is get people talking about them," said Guy Slattery, A&E's exec VP-marketing. "It shouldn't be pure informational advertising. When we were talking about marketing the show, nearly everyone had a connection with a paranormal experience, and that was a surprise to us. So we really tried to base the whole campaign on people's paranormal experiences."

So was it a ghost or just an annoyed resident who stole the speaker from the SoHo billboard twice in one day last week? Horizon Media, which helped place the billboard, had to find a new device that would prevent theft from its rooftop location. Mr. Pompei only takes it as a compliment that someone would go to the trouble of stealing his technology, but hopes consumer acceptance comes with time. "The sound isn't rattling your skull, it's not penetrating you, it's not doing anything nefarious at all. It's just like having a flashlight vs. a light bulb," he said.


David B. Benson said...

Gore greens his Tenessee home

Gerald said...


Some weeks back I was watching a program and it said that green is good for the economy.


Gerald said...

President Butch out-Nixons Nixon
view votes
by Ed Kociela | Dec 16 2007 - 8:35am |

What more do we need to draw parallels between the Nixon Disaster and the Butch Tragedy?

A hapless war neither is willing to end? Check.

Hatred in their black little hearts for anything progressive on the social responsibility level? Check.

Lying. Double check.

Destroying criminal evidence? You bet your ass.

Closet drunks staggering and reeling around the White House and talking to the paintings? There's every reason to suspect that as well with the current behavior of President Butch. Talk to any addiction therapist and the classic symptoms are there of someone who has fallen off the wagon.

The tapes -- those audio tapes from the Nixon administration and the missing CIA videotapes of the Butch administration -- are the clincher, however.

At least nobody was physically tortured on the Nixon tapes. God only knows what happened on the missing CIA tapes Bush now is pushing a judge and the American people to forget about.

This thing with the missing CIA interrogation tapes of suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is that these guys really knew what they were doing all along, shipping them from one secret prison to another before landing them at Gitmo where they were hoping to "git mo'," in Butch-ese language, information squeezed out of them.

Now, to be sure, these guys were no choirboys, but that does not matter.

America was once an honorable nation where good and decent people believed that torture was not a legitimate interrogation method.

"But they're chopping off the heads of American prisoners in Iraq," Shill O'Reilly may wail.

"These are dirty, filthy, Godless Islamo-fascists," Sean Insanity may screech.

"Gimme my Viagra and OxyContin," Lardass Limbaugh would spew.

Cheap shot?

Yeah. So what, screw those guys for even hinting that it's OK to impose unspeakable actions on people who are being held under our authority. The rationale that they did it so we should be able to do the same would have meant hurling those of German heritage into gas chambers during World War II; throwing protesters like the Chicago 7 and Daniel Ellsberg into deep, dark holes, never to appear again -- ala the Soviet Union -- during the '60s; boiling political dissidents in a pot and having them for dinner, perhaps with a chianti and fava beans, ala Idi Amin.

No, we're better than this and for that reason, Butch, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice should be packaged up and sent to The Hague.

These war pigs have delivered unspeakable wrath and pain upon innocent people; have, by inference and otherwise, threatened other nations with military action; have stripped war prisoners of their rights under the Geneva Convention; have committed acts of degradation and torture; and threatened citizens of their own country.

So, just a reminder, President Butch, before you head to Baja Oklahoma, put on that plaid shirt, clear brush and chop wood or whatever it is you really do down there, you may be close to ending your term as president, but, you are not off the hook.

You can burn tapes, hide evidence, run from the Congressional committees and refuse to cooperate, but even after you leave office, we will still be after you, praying justice is finally served.


Gerald said...

Butch has accepted ethnic cleansing

Gerald said...

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So the US is over four years into a war that is likely going to end in a disaster. How valid are the comparisons with Vietnam?

Hersh: The validity is that the US is fighting a guerrilla war and doesn't know the culture. But the difference is that at a certain point, because of Congressional and public opposition, the Vietnam War was no longer tenable. But these guys now don't care. They see it but they don't care.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: If the Iraq war does end up as a defeat for the US, will it leave as deep a wound as the Vietnam War did?

Hersh: Much worse. Vietnam was a tactical mistake. This is strategic. How do you repair damages with whole cultures? On the home front, though, we'll rationalize it away. Don't worry about that. Again, there's no learning curve. No learning curve at all. We'll be ready to fight another stupid war in another two decades.

Yes, and I mean yes, we are stupid Nazi Americans!!!!!

Gerald said...

Iraqis hate the United States of Evil

Gerald said...

American politicians continually throw up their hands in disgust that Iraqis cannot reconcile or agree on how to share power. But equally destabilizing is the presence of a large US army in Iraq and the uncertainty about what role the US will play in future. However much Iraqis may fight among themselves, a central political fact in Iraq remains the unpopularity of the US-led occupation outside Kurdistan. This has grown year by year since the fall of Saddam Hussein. A detailed opinion poll carried out by ABC News, BBC and NTV of Japan in August found that 57 per cent of Iraqis believe that attacks on US forces are acceptable.

Nothing is resolved in Iraq. Power is wholly fragmented. The Americans will discover, as the British learned to their cost in Basra, that they have few permanent allies in Iraq. It has become a land of warlords in which fragile ceasefires might last for months and might equally collapse tomorrow.

Gerald said...

One Day, Nazi America

Gerald said...

One day, you’ll desperately search for hope of any sort, but none will remain. Nothing will be left to save you.

One day you’ll realize that once there were solutions, but that that day is now long past. You’ll see that human technological capacity ran its evolutionary race with wisdom, and the latter came in second. You’ll sadly realize that you stood by while your country led the once great tool-making species to its own destruction.

One day you’re gonna wake up, America, and realize how far it’s all gone. But if that day isn’t very soon, it won’t matter.

Because one day you’re gonna wake up, and it will be far, far too late.

Gerald said...

How they stole the bomb from us?