In May of 2006 during the show’s second season, the creative team released a series of television commercials for the fictional Hanso Foundation. These commercials aired during the show’s actual commercial breaks and ended with phone numbers and web addresses to inspire further research. At this point during the series, the Hanso Foundation played a relatively minor role, and more casual fans of the show were unlikely to catch that the Hanso commercial was a reference to LOST, nor might have even seen the commercial to begin with. In order to remedy this, the creative team made the commercial especially ambiguous; the commercial never states what Hanso is or does. The advertising principle the creators use is intrigue: the ad includes words like “curious,” “imagining,” and “possible” in conjunction with images of clouds, spaceships, and the DNA double helix, in order to captivate the audience and lead them to believe that Hanso inspires greatness. This way, even those who wouldn’t automatically associate the commercial and the television show would still want to find out what exactly the commercial was about. Furthermore, the originate airdate of the first commercial created so much buzz among fans that people who potentially missed it the first time – along with those who had already seen it – purposefully set aside time to watch the commercial breaks in the hopes of catching another LOST-related commercial.
This is the original Hanso Foundation commercial.
The number that is listed at the end of the commercial, 1-877-HANSORG, is no longer in service. However, immediately following the original broadcast, the circuits were so busy that it took some fans dozens of tries to get through. Once the recording actually picked up, it gave several options, including general information and extensions for various characters associated with the foundation, including Alvar Hanso himself. Of course, the extensions go directly to each character’s voicemail boxes instead of to the characters themselves. Much of the recording is in different languages, but during the hold music for Thomas Mittlewerk, the vocalist mentions “lemon line” and “lymon” specifically. These are indirect references to Sprite’s Sublymonal advertising campaign, and as seen a few weeks later in another Hanso Foundation commercial, the lyrics in this song are no coincidence. Sprite unofficially launched its Sublymonal campaign via the Hanso Foundation commercials.
The Hanso Foundation commercials continued through season two and resumed again after the hiatus in season three. After the original inclusion of the Hanso Foundation’s hotline number at the end of the ad, the succeeding commercials all listed websites as well. These websites, such as letyourcompassguideyou.com, sublymonal.com, and hansocareers.com, all seem a little mysterious and potentially LOST-related upon first glance. However, the now defunct letyourcompassguideyou.com was actually a Jeep website advertising the new Jeep Compass. Likewise, sublymonal.com automatically redirects you to the Sprite website, and hansocareers.com is simply a shell site for monster.com, a classified site for finding jobs.
The purpose behind these commercials is to first and foremost intrigue the viewers so much that they cannot resist going to these websites in order to research the Hanso Foundation. Furthermore, for the serious fans, these websites were a potential source for solving some of the major secrets on the show. After all, the creative team is known for placing easter eggs in various places on the internet as well as in the DVD sets, and these craftily hidden extras give away more knowledge about the show than can be gathered from just watching the episodes. The creative team behind the commercials knows their audience. The hardcore fans will go through any means necessary to find out more about the show’s mysteries, and even the casual fans are easily intrigued and thus will let their curiosity get the better of them and check out the websites. They will then be exposed to the sponsoring companies’ products, which is of course the ultimate goal.