In a move that simultaneously evokes awww-neat childhood memories of “invisible ink” while also marketing an outdoor lifestyle brand, L.L. Bean has taken out a full-page newspaper ad that can only be read in the sunlight.
To anyone picking up today’s New York Times and seeing the ad while indoors, it’s a largely blank space with just the Bean logo and four words scattered across the page.
“Just bring this outside,” the message instructs.
Once the ad is in sunlight — or really, any UV light — more words printed with special photochromic ink appear, revealing L.L. Bean’s “special invitation.”
The secret message is really just L.L Bean’s new manifesto, including feel-good phrases like “Because on the inside, we’re all outsiders. And if it’s outside, we’re all in.”
Although it’s a neat gimmick, the payoff is a bit of a disappointment compared to the brazenness of the unique technique — but again, people are talking about the ad.
We still can’t help but feel a bit like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, after he finally gets to use his Little Orphan Annie decoder pin to decipher a top-secret message from Annie to her devotees.