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A High-Tech Dinner Bell

Kim Hart

Last summer, I wrote a story with Yuki Noguchi about the Mosquito ring tone--a high-pitched sound that teenagers can hear but their elders (most importantly, teachers and parents) cannot. Teens started using the ring tone so they could receive undetected calls and text messages during class, where cell phones are often forbidden.

Now the super-sonic tone is being used as a marketing tool to grab the attention of customers under the age of 20. Yesterday, Kentucky Fried Chicken introduced a new television commercial in which the Mosquito tone is embedded.

The new ad is meant to be some sort of game to promote KFC's Boneless Variety Bucket. Viewers are supposed to try to guess where the sound is placed in the commercial--with or without the help of younger generations. The sound is supposedly too high-pitched for many adults to hear because most people begin to lose the ability to hear high-frequency tones starting at age 20.

Whether customers can hear it or not, KFC is hoping the screeching sound will resonate with hungry TV-watchers. CEO James O'Reilly said the campaign is meant to engage people and reward them for paying attention.
"We call it the 21st-Century dinner bell," he said in a press release.

Can you hear the Mosquito tone? Try it out--even if it doesn't lead you to a big bucket of chicken.

By Kim Hart  |  April 12, 2007; 10:12 AM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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