Each frame in the middle 10 seconds of the 30-second spot, to run every 30 minutes on KTVK through July 31, carries a different image of Chevy cars, trucks, engines, interiors and other images. With 30 frames per second, that allows 300 different images.
SPOT MUST BE TAPED BY VIEWER
The catch: Viewers will be asked to record the commercial on videocassette recorders and play it back frame-by-frame for details.
"It's like delivering a full Chevy catalog over broadcast," said Jack Wilkerson, president of Associated Advertising, whose sole client is Valley Chevrolet Dealers Association. "People are not as intimidated by their VCRs as computers or the Net."
The Chevy dealer group spends about $4 million annually through the agency.
One advantage, said Mr. Wilkerson, is the technique's cost-effectiveness. A TV freeze-frame catalog spot run nationally would cost 3 or 4 per person to reach about 11 million people, he estimated.
The agency's cost for this particular July campaign was virtually zero because the Mac America-owned independent station agreed to produce the spot free. Radio spots on eight stations direct listeners to the TV commercial.
Mr. Wilkerson and Randy Murray, who heads a Phoenix production company bearing his name, have been trying to patent the freeze-frame technology for the past four or five years. But the fact that it involves old technology is holding up approval, Mr. Wilkerson said.
STRONG RESPONSE EXPECTED
He predicted a strong response to the campaign from consumers, citing "the curiosity factor."
But there is skepticism.
"You're asking an awful lot of the consumer," said Bob Mancini, senior VP-director of media services at J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, the agency for Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division. "We're in a decade of convenience and instant gratification, and this type of technology doesn't fit."
The campaign's success will be limited without "an interesting offer or something really compelling to the viewer," said Chuck Bachrach, exec VP-media resources at Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica, Calif., agency for American Honda Motor Co.'s Honda.