Every second, three people are born and the basketball star,
Michael Jordan, earns dollars 2.48, but you could be forgiven for
thinking not much else can happen in such a short space of time.
However, last month a Milwaukee-based padlock-maker made US advertising
history with the country’s first single-second commercial.
Master Lock increased sales by 40 per cent in only a few weeks after
running a campaign on two obscure cable stations with airtime amounting
to just ten normal-length commercials. The reason? It ran 300 ads, each
only a second long.
One-second commercials don’t have a strong track record. Firstly, the US
Federal Communications Commission is squeamish about subliminal
Secondly, unless a brand already has a memorable icon, viewers would
have a tough time recognising it in only a second.
Master Lock, however, had an answer to both problems. The manufacturer
of combination locks, steering wheel locks and padlocks is a seasoned
advertiser, and has kept its message - that the locks are tough under
fire - consistent throughout the years. To make this point, all of its
commercials have ended in the same way, with a Master Lock padlock being
shot through by a high-power rifle, but still remaining firmly
This concept is adapted to the single-second commercials.
Master Lock and its agency, Cramer-Krasselt, also had an answer on the
FCC issue. They agreed with the commission that the ads could proceed as
long as they crammed 28 frames into a single second, thus circumventing
the FCC stricture on subliminals of less than six frames per second.
According to a spokesman for the company, its pioneering foray into
one-second commercials has been phenomenally successful, even though
only the more arcane cable television stations could be persuaded to run
them - ESPN Classic Sports and the science fiction station, FX.
Nevertheless, the column inches have piled up, and the ads were a
perfect teaser for Master Lock’s main advertising campaign, which
started this week.