Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My own Interpretation

Today I am going to try and analyze a subliminal message in an ad by myself. There is this website that shows you a few ads and then asks you to try and analyze it yourself. So today, I am going to try and do that. Below you will find the link to the ad that I am going to analyze.


Now although in that picture of the ad the word, "sex" is blatantly spelled out in the ice cubes, I think that there is more going on in the picture besides just the word, "sex." What I think is that the creator of this ad took into careful consideration the placement of every object in the ad. What confused me at first about the ad was the knife. Now, I know that it is there because it cut the lime, but that almost seems out of place to me. I think the knife is there for a more subliminal reason. After looking at the ad, I think that the knife and the word, "sex" in the ice cubes are meant to mean something when put together. Maybe when you use Canada Dry Tonic Water as a mixer you will have violent sex? I don't really know. All I know is that when you really look at the ad, the knife seems out of place. I also noticed that there is a puddle of water by the knife that could symbolize blood. That puddle of water was also placed there very carefully as to convey a violent message.

So now that I have given my opinion on the ad, let's look at what Bill Chapman, the teacher who created this website, has to say about the ad.

Well Chapman sort of follows along the same lines as me, in that he believes that the ad is meant to convey a violent message. Although he takes his one step further. He says that the knife laying there threatens castration if targeted at men. He goes further to say that this ad if targeted at women, targets the women who get beat up by drunk men. He says that the knife is there to get back at the drunk men.

So overall, Chapman and I realized the same ideas of violence in the ad. Chapman, however, went a bit further to explain himself as to what sort of violence. To me, his interpretation seems a bit far stretched with the whole castration conclusion. I feel like there really is no evidence to support the castration theory. But, overall, the ideas that the ad contained violence were ever present in both of our theories.

Well, this concludes my last blog post. I had a great time learning about subliminal messages in ads, and surprisingly in Disney movies. I had no idea so many companies used subliminal messages in their advertising. Overall, I feel this topic has inspired me to keep a look out for such ads in the media.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Recent Subliminal Ad in the KFC Snacker

So today I have an interesting subliminal message in a recent ad. In the KFC ads about the new Snacker sandwich there is a one dollar bill embedded in the lettuce of the sandwich. Here, instead of showing you a picture like I usually do, I think I will give you the link to the commercial on youtube that shows the dollar bill in the lettuce.


So let's talk about why KFC would so blatantly put a dollar bill in the lettuce of the Snacker. Now according to a blog on the Chicago Tribune website, KFC actually put the dollar bill there for one of their recent marketing campaigns. They said that the first 1,000 customers to find the secret image in their commercial would get one dollar coupon for one of the Snackers. Now, although KFC did this little scheme as part of a marketing campaign, it doesn't necessarily mean that it still cannot be considered a subliminal message.

KFC was smart with doing something like this. For one, KFC kept in mind those people who saw the commercial but didn't know about the contest. So in that way, the dollar bill sign in the lettuce is still considered a subliminal message because for those viewers who were not looking for the dollar bill, their subconscious more than likely still registered it. So now people can associate a dollar with a KFC Snacker even though they didn't see the hidden image. So if they do that, they are more likely to go to KFC to try a Snacker because they remember that it is only a dollar.

Now, another reason why I think that the dollar bill in the lettuce can still be considered a subliminal message is because if KFC didn't intend for it to be, then why didn't they pick another symbol for their little contest they had going on? By using a dollar bill, the symbol serves two purposes: to get people to find the dollar bill in the lettuce to boost sales, and also for people who weren't looking for the dollar bill, it serves as a subliminal message to get them to KFC to buy the Snacker for only a dollar.

Although many could argue that this publicity stunt that KFC pulled to introduce its Snacker is not subliminal advertising, some of the points that I have brought up in this blog suggest otherwise. KFC was very smart with the way that they went about it, and it was no coincidence that they chose a dollar bill to be the symbol that viewers were trying to find.

The next blog post that I post will also be my last one. I think that for that one, I am going to try and analyze an ad myself that is known to have a subliminal message in it. I am going to do that without looking at what the answers are, and then after I analyze it myself, I will look at some evidence about that ad and compare my answer to some other answers that I find.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Pepsi "Cool" Can

Today I am going to talk about the Pepsi "Cool" can released in the 1990s. First, I want to just give you the link to the picture of the soda cans so that you can try and find the subliminal message on your own. Look closely, it really is not that hard to spot. I will give you a hint: it is a word.


If you didn't figure it out for yourself, when placed on top of each other the cans spell out "sex." So was this intentional of Pepsi for the cans to spell this? Well, according to a PowerPoint called "The Subliminal Messages in Print Advertising" by Ligia Hernandez and Andrea Larson, Pepsi subliminally manipulated people by designing the cans in such a way so that when the six packs were stacked at grocery stores, it would spell the word "sex."

Again, this goes back to the picture of the naked woman in the Disney movie that I talked about in one of my previous blogs. Sex sells. In my opinion, when Pepsi put the word, "sex" in their six packs it attracted customers because it aroused them and made them subconsciously want to buy Pepsi.

Another example of advertisers trying to boost sales is of an ad put out by Gilbey's gin. Below is a link to a picture of this ad, and like the Pepsi ad, spells out the word "sex." However, this picture does it through the ice cubes in the glass.


Now, to back up these claims that subliminal messaging really does work for these companies, let's look at Pepsi's sales around before and after the Pepsi "cool" can came out. In 1989, the year before the "Cool" can came out, Pepsi's made $15 billion dollars. Now in 1990, the year the "Cool" can came out Pepsi's sales increased by $2.8 billion. Although these figures aren't directly tied to each other, you can definitely draw conclusions based on Pepsi's increase in sales after the "Cool" can came out.

Although the use of subliminal advertising in these two ads cannot be proven to be intentional, it does give you something to think about considering Pepsi's increase in sales after the "Cool" can came out. Next time, I will continue to analyze certain ads and make inferences about them based on what I know. Next time I am going to talk about ads that try and promote something besides sex.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Disney's use of Subliminal Messages yet again.

Today, I have another Disney ad that I would like to talk about. This ad, however, isn't to promote sex or anything like that. This subliminal message is simply to promote the Disney Corporation. The ad is a movie poster for Pirates of the Caribbean's: Dead Man's Chest. The first link posted below is of the movie poster. Look at that one first. Then the link below that link is a picture of what the skull and torches are supposed to resemble.



See the resemblance? Because the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are made by Disney, Disney used the movie poster as a chance to embed the Disney logo subconsciously into people's minds in order to hopefully, increase sales. So how does this work? Why does Disney use these techniques?

According to the article, "What are Subliminal Messages?" Subliminal suggestions are more powerful than ordinary suggestions because they feed into the person's unconscious mind, or deeper mind. The article goes further to say that these subliminal messages can be compared to "hypnosis wherein the subject is encouraged to be (or somehow induced to be) relaxed so that suggestions are directed to the deeper parts of the mind..."

Knowing how subliminal advertising could work is a fairly good reason to use it, I suppose. However, Disney would have needed evidence of it working in order to be convinced to use this method of advertising. The article that I previously referred to recited the first well-known case of subliminal advertising and evidence supporting why it worked. The article talked about a New Jersey drive-in movie theater that flashed the words "DRINK COCA-COLA" and "EAT POPCORN" for 1/3000th of a second throughout a movie for six weeks. By the end of the experiment, the drive-in movie theater said that coke sales in the lobby increased by 58% while the popcorn sales increased by 18%.

Although the boost in sales could have just been coincidental, it is obviously good enough reason to at least try subliminal advertising. So Disney creating the Dead Man's Chest poster to resemble Mickey Mouse ears was a fairly smart move on Disney's part. Although there isn't any known evidence supporting an increase in Disney sales because of that poster, it doesn't mean that it wasn't intentional of Disney to make the poster that way.

I think that Disney definitely kept their logo in mind when making that poster. There is enough evidence out there to support subliminal advertising that Disney would at least try it. I think that if it is possible to hypnotize people then it is possible that subliminal advertising really works because both play on the same part of your brain. Considering the last blog post that I made about Disney, and this new one, it is evident that Disney uses subliminal messaging and advertising.

The next post that I make will hopefully be a different example other than Disney to show what types of companies use subliminal advertising.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Subliminal Messages in a Disney Film

Today, I would like to begin my research on subliminal advertising/messages with an image from the Disney movie, The Rescuers. Below, you will find a link to this image that you can click on so that you have some idea as to what I am talking about throughout this blog post.


Look carefully in the window behind the two mice and you will see clearly an image of a topless woman. On January 8, 1999 3.4 million copies of The Rescuers were recalled because of the image (Business Wire, 1999).

Now, what I initially wondered when I saw this image was, "Why would Disney feel it necessary, or even morally apt for an image of a topless woman to be in what is supposed to be a children's movie?". After thinking about it further and finding research on this topic, I came to a conclusion.

Overall, this comes down to one thing: sex sells. Now we hear this all the time, but never really in conjunction with a kids movie. According to Brittani Saab's article titled, "Does Sex Sell?" Disney puts these sexual images into their movies for the people who sit and analyze Disney movies for certain subliminal messages such as that. Saab goes further to say that Disney wants these people to find these shocking images so that it arouses curiosity in other people to go and buy those movies and increase sales.

I think that that is absolutely ridiculous. I do agree that Disney puts those images in their movies on purpose, but not for adults. I think that Disney actually wants the kids to subconsciously recognize those sexual images, and I think that by doing so, it will make the kids want to buy the film. I do believe that sex sells and I believe that it even sells with younger children. I think sex is internally ground into all of us starting at such a young age, especially with advertising how it is now. Women are portrayed as sexy and skinny with few flaws, and we praise that in our society. So, yes, I do believe that younger kids catch on to that even at the ages of 3 or 4 and learn that sex really does sell in our society. So by Disney putting these images in their movies, they are just reinforcing what younger children have already learned growing up.

This is very smart on Disney's part because they can grasp younger children by using such images as a topless woman without the child even consciously recognizing it. By doing this, Disney makes a huge profit off of the movies that they create that have these images in them. However morally wrong, Disney is doing this to make money, which is any huge corporation's primary goal.

Overall, this issue of explicit images in children movies for capital gain is wrong and reinforces why subliminal messaging and advertising is illegal in the United States. Next time, I hope to talk about subliminal messages in ads and analyze the meaning of the messages as businesses try and sell products to you through your subconscious.