Carolin Rosin, one of the more than 400 witnesses collected to testify the reality of physical extraterrestrial intelligence on earth, has experience with this technology. One time Werner von Braun was not feeling well to go and held a speech he was supposed to give, so he asked his , Carolin Rosin, to do the speech for him. Carolin of course said that she couldn’t do that, but von Braun insisted that everything would be taken care of. At the moment she was supposed to give the speech, she heard, without wearing any instrument, the voice from Werner von Braun in her head clearly. So von Braun dictated the speech to her and she only repeated what he said. This technology is called Voice to Skull. It’s developed in 1974 by Joseph Sharpe (U.S. patent 6,587,729). Now this technology is used in advertising. But if you don’t know it’s existence, you would be shocked and might think you are going insane.

Published on 2007-12-11 00:00:00

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

No, he's not crazy: Our intrepid reporter Andrew
Hampp ventures to SoHo to hear for himself the technology that has New Yorkers 'freaked out' and A&E buzzing.
he’s not crazy: Our intrepid reporter Andrew Hampp ventures to SoHo to
hear for himself the technology that has New Yorkers ‘freaked out’ and
A&E buzzing.
Photo Credit: Yoray Liberman)
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?

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 itemabout
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

$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.
(AM New York’s gossip page got turned upside down as promo.)
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.