Cases 10 to 14 are taken from a single issue of the French news weekly L’Express, dated March 18-24, 2015. Cases 15 to 23 come from a single issue of the French women’s weekly magazine Elle, dated March 20, 2015.
Although taken from French journals, many of these ads are promoting multinationals’ brands and were designed by advertising agencies with international marketing in view (I am quite confident that they can be found in other countries too).
Same as previously (for more case studies, and for the theory, please click on the Subliminal category from the menu on the right), for each case I present an overall picture of the ad first, then a picture focusing on the relevant part of it, where the subliminal or subliminals are, and finally a third picture with the sub outlined on my computer so you can compare with picture 2. Case 15 has only two pictures, since a picture 2 wasn’t needed. Case 16 has five pics, because I focus on two different spots.
…………… Case 10 The No Sex Fear
On this ad for the fashion brand Hogan the sex embeds are located on the dancing man on the right. I have outlined two embeds on his right arm and forehead, but there are several more tiny ones on his shoes and one more on his arm tattoo as well. Interestingly enough, most conspicuous from his tattoo is the word NO. With the outlined sex embeds the message, actually, reads NO SEX.
One way to analyse this subliminal message would be that it is a vicious injunction meant to subliminally hinder sex life, because sexually deprived people would be more receptive to advertising and consume more. I believe this would be a line of argument favored by W.B. Key, pioneer in the study of subliminal advertising, whom I have already cited (here).
I can see at least two other reasons for a No Sex subliminal message. It would be reassuring to young women. The party displayed on the ad only suggests fun, mind you! In other words, it is not showing the last decent moments (very relatively decent, in fact) before a sex orgy. It happens sometimes that girls who only want to have fun end up having sex without caring for it. Doesn’t it?
On the other hand, the No Sex message could also be a reminder: We remind you you have no sex in your life. As the main targets of this brand are young people, a good deal have never had sex. Given that sex is a passage from child to adult, the fear that one might never experience sex and become an adult is a real factor in adolescent psychology. This is the no sex fear, which the ad intents to exploit subliminally.
…………… Case 11
On this ad for the Italian-based fashion brand Geox, the pattern of the displayed shoes offers an easy opportunity for embedding. In the shadow of the white shoe’s lace, the graphist has painted an E. The S and X are provided by the pattern itself, slightly darkened in the case of the X.
……………. Case 12
This brand of coffee advertises a partnership with Nespresso. At first sight, given the dull aspect of the ad, full of boring text that no one would ever care to read, I told myself there must be something bold to look for. I wasn’t disappointed. See the shadows on the jersey.
…………… Case 13
This one for the state-owned French bank La Banque Postale.
……………. Case 14
This one promotes the DVDs of the American TV series Boardwalk Empire. The blood on the face delineates, rather conspicuously I find, the letters S and X. The letter E is there, of course, but not so apparent.
…………… Case 15 Emporio Armani
With this case begins the series from the women’s magazine Elle. The sex embeds have been painted as reflections on the girl’s glasses.
……………. Case 16 Ralph Lauren
The main camel in the background is covered with embeds. I have outlined the four most conspicuous. The gown of the lady exhibits at least one sex embed too, at the bottom, painted as folds and shades.
……………. Case 17 Burberry
These are the models Naomi Campbell and Jourdan Dunn. Naomi’s lips have been adorned with a SEX, embedded amidst the natural furrows of these fleshy parts pf hers.
…………… Case 18 Salvatore Ferragano
……………. Case 19 Kenzo
……………. Case 20 ba&sh
…………… Case 21 Furla
The sex embed lies on the lady’s dress. The S and E are a lighter red than their background, the X has been painted as a shadow.
…………… Case 22 What For Shoes
…………… Case 23 La Redoute
Last but not least, a sex embed on a preadolescent girl, for the French distance selling company La Redoute.