The Subliminal messages in Print Advertising

The Subliminal Messages in
Print Advertising
The importance of viewing ads
Ligia Hernandez / Andrea Larson
Teaching Media Literacy
What is Subliminal Advertising?
 Subliminal advertising is a technique of
exposing consumers to product pictures, brand
names, or other marketing stimuli without the
consumers having conscious awareness. Once
exposed to a subliminal marketing stimulus,
the consumer is believed to decode the
information and act upon it without being able
to acknowledge a communication stimulus.
When did it begin?
 Public Advertising" began with the 1957 publication of Vance Packard's
book, The Hidden Persuaders. Although Packard did not use the term
"subliminal advertising," he did describe many of the new "motivational
research" marketing techniques being employed to sell products in the
burgeoning post-war American market. Advertisements that focused on
consumers' hopes, fears, guilt, and sexuality were designed to persuade
them to buy products they'd never realized they needed. Marketers who
could reach into the hearts and minds of American consumers soon
found consumers' wallets to be within easy grasp as well.
History Cont.
 In the 1970s, Wilson Bryan Key wrote such books
as Subliminal Seduction and Media Sexploitation
in which he claimed subliminal sexual symbols or
objects are often used to entice consumers to
buy and use various products and services. One
of Key’s most famous claims is that the word sex
was often embedded in products and
Key Cont.
 For example, he claimed that the word sex was
printed on Ritz crackers and was embedded in
the ice cubes of the drink shown in a well-known
ad for Gilbey’s Gin. According to Key, despite the
fact the embedded words are not consciously
perceived, they are unconsciously perceived and
can elicit sexual arousal which in turn makes the
products more attractive to consumers.
Ritz/ Gin
 Ritz Cracker
 Gin
The Pepsi Cool Can
 In 1990, Pepsi actually withdrew one of its Cool Can
designs after someone protested that Pepsi was
subliminally manipulating people by designing the
cans such that when six-packs were stacked at
grocery stores, the word SEX would emerge from
the seemingly random design. Critics alleged that
the red and blue lines on the Cool Can design were
far from random
Pepsi Cool Can from the 90’s
Camel Tobacco
 The Camel Tobacco companies have also been the
target of accusations of visual embeds. One
common alleged embed of sexually suggestive
imagery is on the standard pack of Camel
cigarettes. Apparently, if you look closely enough at
the rear leg of the camel on the cigarette pack, you
can see an image of a naked mean standing tall
facing the rear of the camel with an erect penis.
Camel Tobacco
Can you find the subliminal here?
 The steam on the mirror
means that someone is
showering?If so, then
the darker parts
reflected in the mirror
are the people in the
Newport Ad
 Note how the woman's head
is leaning back, her eyes
closed, her mouth open, and
her legs up in the air.What is
the role of the guy standing
over her?
Musk by Alyssa Ashley
 Note how flushed
their faces are.
Faces flush when
people are sexually
 The rocket, a phallic
symbol, is blasting
off. His middle finger
creates the blast
off.The target seems
to be between her
We invite you…
Find your own examples or subliminal
messages embedded in print
Look more critically at ads, next time you
are exposed to them.
Don’t let advertisers play with:
Your mind
Your psyche
Your impulses
Your beliefs
Your desires
Resources on Subliminal