Reality Cracking: Commercial TV
(cracking easy advertisement protection schemes)

by MrWho

(27 January 1997, slightly edited by fravia+)

(With a small addition by Bob, 29 January 1997)

reality cracking
Reality cracking
Courtesy of fravia's page of reverse engineering
Well, this is the letter I received by MrWho yesterday
  I forwarded the following essay on commercial TV to +ORC before 
submitting it to you, because I wanted to know if he found it of 
any value; well, first of all I was surprised of his answering me
at all (you know, not being me a +cracker nor a member of the +HCU), 
and then by his positive comments and his encouragment to go on on 
this subject.

  Well, here it goes my piece, I hope you'll like it too.

	a smile, 
And indeed I had already received the funny 'Cigarettes' essay by +ORC on this subject, and I'm very happy that our 'reality cracking' is taking momentum.

Reality Cracking: Commercial TV by MrWho
There are some patterns in commercial TV, and in the TV Commercials, that are well determined and common, two characteristics that make it worth trying to crack; this is not a complete list, I'm sure there is plenty more, but I guess it's a good start, others may want to add their own findings to this. Sound level change I'm sure that some of you have noticed a strange happening: when the movie you're watching is suspended in order to broadcast the commercials, the loudness comes up, sometimes quite a lot. Despite the fact that in Europe this behaviour is forbidden by law (Yes, impressively enough there is still someone fighting a lost battle to make our life better) still many commercial channels do it, in a more subtle way: they lower the loudness, but the effect is exactly the same, if you were distracted, or your attention was lowered, it will be redirected again towards your TV. Removal of "negative" images and colors Commercials are made to make you like something, whatever that something may be, and there are some studies that correlate a product with a color that's known to be particularly liked for that category of products. There is an extensive literature on the subject, but just to mention some connections: Washing powders: white, blue, bright red are the colors that give positive images related to washing powders. To avoid: brown, black and generally colors that remind of dirt (or worse); Food: there are many categories in food colors, consider brown, oranges and yellows as the perfect ones for breakfast related items; gold, silver, dark browns and black for coffee, teas and tea-like products; green, yellow, red for canned products, definitely no gray there; Cars: grays and metallic grays (mostly used because they are widely accepted with positive images), bright red and black. A "no-no" color for cars, in commercials, is white. Consider, in the chapter "colors to avoid", the example of sanitary napkins: when they show their absorbent powers the liquid they'll use will be as far as possible from red and yellow, in some cases they'll use a blue liquid, the most daring companies will use neon-oranges and neon-purples. Recalling At a certain point commercial producers noticed that, due to the overload people were receiving from the TV, people just stopped listening and entered a "braindead" self-defence mode, not the perfect state to have people slurping your ads if you want them to remember your brand propaganda when they later stroll and tramp inside the shops to perform their consumistic duties... Commercial producers had, I have to admit, a bright idea: instead of a 'regular' 30 seconds straight film, they would divide this time into -say- a 25 seconds main part, placing later, after a while, a 5 seconds segment recalling the previous, longer one. In this way the viewer is forced out of his hypnotic cathartic commercial-skipping state in order to reconnect the two pieces, and he is forced to remember the advertisement. This is not a new idea, not at all, since for instance writers use it a lot, inserting references to previous pieces of the book to have the reader perform some mind gymnastics; yet in books that serves definitely a better purpose than having you buy something you don't need; All the rest I don't have time at the moment to write in detail about other techniques that are a bit more obvious, like the "want to be - media to be", where a positive image of some kind of person everyone would like to be is associated to the product as a media to get there (if you drink this you get lots of girls, rich people, cowboys and pilots smoke these cigarettes). Sincere channels perverted It is interesting to notice that, again the guys making commercials are not completely stupid, when someone relized people were not that dumb a whole set of new commercials started popping out where the principle was subverted, sending a message like: "Trust us, we are not lying to you as other do, we don't want you to buy our product because you'll be a better man, but because our products is really good". Don't underestimate this tecnique, since it's quite powerful: they open a "sincere" channel of communication, stating that their product won't do any good in a social scale to you, and then use this channel to send the -obviously bogus- message that their product is good. This is a real masterpiece of social engineering and social beguiling and deceiving. Repetition patterns to hypnotize Repetition patterns are also common in commercials, mostly used on the "shopping channels", where they can have long patterns running: this is an "hypnosis" kind of sending over and over again the same message, that is repeated so many times that it becomes "true", just like the old magician pattern: "you feel tired, you feel like you have to close you eyes" used in all hypnotic sessions. The similarity goes much further: if you ever cracked an hypno session (and there is a lot cracking material there,n oh boy!) you'll notice that in the sentences pronounced and repeated to have a person fall in an hypnotic state there is always a mix of truths and suggestions: eventually, if the person has been staring at something for some time, his eyes will really feel tired, then he will conclude that if the hypnotiser is "right" about his eyes being tired he MUST be right about him wanting to close them, and he gets baloney. If it is true that you tried many products and they really didn't work, then this product, that states that the other products do not work, MUST be good. Get the point? Another one, before closing this small essay: when someone is right about something and he's trying to convince you about it, and you don't believe him, won't he usually start getting excited about it, and eventually shout at you? Do you see it coming? Wanna bet? :) Unrespected EU-laws, our kids and a mission for crackers I want to say something positive about the European Union: I feel sometimes like it's something really good when it comes to protect some categories of people, unfortunately they are costantly hampered by commercial lobbyes and commercial interests, delaying all the consumer laws in name of the 'free marketing' (read enslaving) society. Anyway one of the EU-laws I like more is the one that forbids breaking up cartoons and programs for kids in order to insert commercials inside them. Think about that... good cracking material: advertisement TARGETED for small 5-10 year old kids... in order to have them crying loud for some awfully stupid and useless plastic toy... that they will use three minutes flat before asking for another... or in order to have them whine for some unhealthy chemical-pumped chocolate bars: little minds turned into consumistic slaves, their wishes (and tears) used for the well-being of this commercial society. Unluckily the EU law still awaits to be seriously taken in consideration, since satellite channels like "Cartoon Network", and many others, are completely ignoring it, and noone seems to have the guts to nuke them for this, may be we should start ourselves to develop our own, more sound, counter measures, hitting them where it hurts: those satellite channels rely on PAID DECRYPTION SOFTWARE to make their money don't they? And, if I'm not wrong, crackers are not so bad at software decryption, are they :-) A smile, MrWho
(c) 1998MrWho All rights reversed
A small addition, by Bob, 29 January 1997
Hi Fravia!

I just read MrWho's text on TV advertisements, and
I must comment on it.  

While I do not create such ads, I work in a TV 
station, and I am in charge of putting them on 
the air - transfering from the original format 
to the one we use for broadcasting (D2, a digital
hybrid format).  

Many people complain about the average sound level
being much higher for the commercials than it is
for the program itself.  Even my wife tells me it's 
my fault.. :-) It is true in a sense, but in 
reality, it's the program that's broadcasted too 

When we transfer a commercial received from the
distributor, we ensure that the peak level never 
goes over +8dBm (a standard test tone signal 
comes in at 0dBm).  Of course, if the contents of
the commercial is compressed, the volume will 
appear to be much higher, but then there is no 
dynamic at all.
About the "split" commercials - they are becoming 
more and more common indeed, in the last two
years, we've been airing more 15-seconds 
commercials than ever, and pairs of 8 and 7-second
commercials are coming in...  This is horrible, 
but I guess it's the price we have to pay for
free tv watching... :-(


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