Are You Being Manipulated By Subliminal Ads?

When I was in high school, I had a friend who was doing a project on subliminal messages.  Of course I had no idea what he was talking about.

So he explained in small words so that I could understand.  It went something like this: "A subliminal message is something embedded in something else that is not recognized by your conscious mind.  Like in an advertisement."

He then showed me a page torn from a magazine.  On the page was a woman in a conservative dress.  She was attractive, and somewhat sexy.  I don't recall what the ad was for.

My friend asked me multiple questions about what I saw in the ad.  I don't recall most of these either.  I do, however, remember one quite well:

"Why do you think the woman in the ad is sexy?"

I recall studying the page and not really being able to come up with an answer.

It was then that he lifted the page up to a lamp, exposing that it had been double-printed.  The woman was naked beneath the clothing.  This image was not on the flip side of the page; it was indeed printed beneath the woman's clothing.

That was my first exposure to subliminal advertising, and became something of a milestone in my life.  It taught me that advertisers will do anything to sell a product.

I think it important to build on the rudimentary definition of the term that I gave above.  Wikipedia has quite a detailed description:

"A subliminal message is a signal or message embedded in another medium, designed to pass below the normal limits of the human mind's perception. These messages are unrecognizable by the conscious mind, but in certain situations can affect the subconscious mind and can negatively or positively influence subsequent later thoughts, behaviors, actions, attitudes, belief systems and value systems. The term subliminal means "beneath a limen" (sensory threshold). This is from the Latin words sub, meaning under, and limen, meaning threshold."

Keeping that in mind, I'm going to show you a few (a very few) examples of what marketing geniuses are throwing at our noggins-without us even knowing.

And not surprisingly, some (not all) of these are sexual in nature...

Subliminal Ad #1: Walt Disney and the Pirates of the Caribbean

Really obvious when you see it, eh?  And definitely on purpose in terms of a cross-marketing ad campaign.

Subliminal Ad #2: Kentucky Fried Chicken

I LOVE this.  Quite creative.  Also quite subliminal.  But this person caught it.

Subliminal Ad #3: Kent

Wow, she looks like she's enjoyin' that smoke, eh?  Wouldn't it be nice to have a soothing cigarette right now?  Well all know cigarettes make us sexy...

And that's why.

Subliminal Ad #4: Massad

Okay, this isn't so much of a subliminal ad...  But the outcome produces a something of a subliminal ad.

If the money were right I'd let someone smack his or her logo into my butt cheek.  I'm that broke right now...

Now we're getting into some risqué stuff...

Subliminal Ad #5: D.J. Flooring

From what I can gather, this ad was placed in a phone book.  It was pulled after several people noticed something unusual about the design:

Well... that's just plain naughty.

Subliminal Ad #6: George Bush 2000 Election Campaign

See if you can spot the subliminal element in this ad.

The answer is below.*

Subliminal Ad #7: Prevention of Alcohol Addiction Campaign

I had a few of you "bold" readers named "Anonymous" criticize me for my article Can You Spot the Weenie?  10 Subtle Ads Crave Your Attention.  This one's for you.

Hint: It's to the right of the "fish hook," nestled against the side of the glass.

Have you had any subliminal ad experiences?  Feel free to share them below!

SOURCES: Ads of the World, Wikipedia, Artist Mike

*Note the use of the word "RATS" as it merges with "DEMOCRATS" towards the end of the commercial.  It lingers a fraction of a second longer than any of the other words...
Aug 17, 2009
by Anonymous

The Medium is STILL the message

Once again, Marshall McLewan would be proud! This kind of advertising is not supposed to be legal, but I guess nobody complains.

Aug 18, 2009
by Anonymous

I honestly dont notice any

I honestly dont notice any of it, half the time I dont even know or care what theyre trying to sell me...

Sep 15, 2009
by Anonymous

Pirates of the carribean

i found one in a surse of the black pearl postertaht says sex