In order to present a few more cases of subliminal techniques used, besides the pervasive sex embeds, in print advertising, I have selected other adverts from the same couple of magazines I have already being using so far, that is, from the months of March, April, and May 2015. The following titles, all women magazines, will provide the new cases: namely, the French magazine Elle from March 20 (Cases 66-7); Cosmopolitan UK Edition from May (68-9); Vogue from April (70-2); and the French magazine Le Figaro Madame from May 22 (Case 73).
Altogether, from no more than a dozen issues of various magazines and weekly newspapers on a three-month period, I have extracted over 70 ads to present my case on contemporary subliminal techniques – and the number would have been much greater had I only have more time and patience at my disposal. Because subliminals are everywhere. How could it be otherwise? Our social environment has become so saturated with advertising that no attention whatsoever is paid any longer to the huge majority of advertisements, and as a result advertisers must by necessity rely, to achieve any foreseeable impact, on mechanisms aimed at impressing so-called peripheral attention, i.e. subconscious mind processes, that is to say to rely on subliminal techniques.
In the subliminal world of the human mind, survival and sexual instincts reign supreme. There are no – how do you call it again? – checks and balances in this realm. Marketers and advertisers know it, and they manipulate these drives in order to channel them into specific consuming behaviors. We live in a society that has accumulated mountains of data from a hundred years of scientific management and scientific marketing, i.e. of the experimental method applied to human behavior on the workplace and the marketplace. Scientific management has put an end to anticapitalist, revolutionary movements; scientific marketing has been able to automatize, so to speak, consumption. It’s Galbraith’s “inverted sequence” running at full speed. This accumulated knowledge remains in large part proprietary, belonging to the corporations that financed the research from which they now derive huge benefits. With time, some of the results trickle down into the public domain, largely, however, via specialized books from insiders, at a pace dictated by the proprietors themselves. Employees from marketing departments as well as from advertising agencies are contractually committed not to disclose the content of their activities (cf. W.B. Key). However, it is not even likely that much concern would be stirred among the public, were unrestricted access to these proprietary data provided all of a sudden. As a matter of fact, the existence of alpha waves, for instance, is well known, as is the fact they are induced in the brain by watching television, along with a hypnoid state and increased suggestibility as a consequence. What concern does it raise? People, it seems, fail to understand what that implies.
…………….Case 66 Armani SEX
This advert is the same as in Case 15 (here). It’s a two-page ad, one page being presented on Case 15 (a sex embed among the reflections of the sunglasses), the other, here, showing what seems to be the same woman, body complete down to the knees (as opposed to the head only being pictured on the opposite page), without sunglasses, on a blue sky, blue sea background. In Case 15, the model has her shoulders covered; here, the model’s shoulders are not. Are there two different persons, and are our brains invited to imagine some story taking place before our eyes, speculating, unbeknownst to our consciousness, on such slight, even hard to notice discrepancies?
On the page here shown, the model is wearing some blue, satined sackcloth of a sort. There is something particularly odd with her left arm; the shape made by her hand in the pocket looks very awkward. Consider it for a moment. The shape looks awkward because it is, in fact, that of a penis. The bulging pocket provides the glans, the arm – her hand being entirely concealed – gives the shaft. Furthermore, the dress folds on the left-hand of the bulging pocket are vaginal folds, the darkened area outline a vaginal slit, so the subliminal penis points toward a subliminal vagina. There is, however, a discrepancy between the size of the penis and that of the vagina; the former is too small to be considered a suitable object.
I suggest that this picture is likely to provoke among its viewers, both male and female, unconscious feelings of sexual inadequacy, thus adding to current levels of anxiety and/or frustration. Anxiety is a primary trigger of compulsive buying. There is an endless supply of uncertainty in the domain of sex, and with uncertainty goes anxiety.
…………….Case 67 Stella McCartney SEX
It’s about a nice little shining handbag. So sheeny is the texture of the bag, so starlike its silvery surface, that it works like a mirror, reflecting the world in a myriad of dazzling little beams of opalescent light. So let’s take a closer look at these reflections. I have outlined on Picture 67-3 below some interesting drawings. Towards the left, a reclining man’s head can be seen. The man is looking with apparent satisfaction at the pair of amazingly nice breasts a woman is proferring him; in all likelihood she will cover his face with them soon. On the right, another man’s face, strangely grining, like mesmerized by awe, appears behing a woman’s back. As a dark triangle her pubic hair is apparent, as well as the legs and belly.
…………….Case 68 Viva Glam SEX
Viva Glam does not only sell lipstick and other cosmetics, it also makes donations to provide care for people affected by HIV/AIDS. The model represents a strip dancer, maybe a prostitute, in a typical venue for this profession, with mirrors at all angles, crude red lights, assorted with weird-shaped, pink neon tubes, and a glimmering confusion on the dazzling background. It’s about sex and death and beauty and money. Look at the right-hand side, among the copse-like neon-tube structure. One can see a penis glans, with deep purple hue and light reflections on its turgescent tissue. The glow of light has been cleverly located so as to cut a drawn line and thus isolate what is none other than the penis meatus. Furthermore, the neon tubes partially covering the glans, on its left side, represent a pair of scissors. I let you decide what one’s subconscious might be feeling after unattended exposure to such subliminal junk.
Addendum. My first thought has been that if a prostitute was represented (it can hardly be denied that the model is intended to represent a prostitute because, as the rumor goes, strip dancers or cabaret dancers –and she is such a dancer, obviously– make extra money from customers by having sex with them), then it must be exciting to (a number of) women to imagine themselves as prostitutes. The subliminal penis and scissors would remain out of this, something besides, for a different kind of women, or at least a distinct trait of character, that of castrating women, which per se does not seem to have a necessary relation to the fantasy of being a prostitute. However, since I published the Case, another scenario came to my mind, more coherent, as I will now explain.
The model is represented as a prostitute and intended to be recognized as such by the female reader, not necessarily at conscious level. For many a female reader, now, the prostitute is, subconsciously at least, the enemy, and their reflex will be to bare their claws and show their teeth, most especially as their mind is invited to dwell on HIV/AIDS (remember that is the argument of the ad’s copy: Viva Glam funds organizations that take care of people affected by HIV/AIDS). The prostitute is the woman that would bring HIV/AIDS to the female reader’s bedroom via the latter’s husband. This is the main argument subliminal. If you, female reader, do not take care to keep on appealing sexually to your husband or partner, he will resort to sex workers, and that may result in him and then you contracting a sexually transmitted disease. And if you dare not carry out castration (the subliminal scissors) to protect your health or even save your life, how do you keep appealing sexually to him? By using Mac Viva Glam lipstick, no doubt.
…………….Case 69 Simply Be… SEX
It says ‘Simply Be… You,’ so let’s take a look at what You is. It strikes one at first glance that You is rather different from the ladies one usually sees in the pictures of a magazine like Cosmopolitan. You, indeed, is overweight. Chubby. You wears blue jeans, which, however widespread in real life streets and meadows, is frankly unusual on the pages of women’s magazines. You has a cheap neo-hippie look about her, hinting at a wish to experience the same sexual liberty as hippies of old. You sits carelessly and slovenly, like a slattern, wears cheap inconspicuous bracelets (all plastic, I would swear), and her facial features are kind of ordinary and unattractive. What else can I say if not that You, although she looks like you in her ways, is just the kind of person you don’t care to be? Slighted by an advertisement?
…………….Case 70 Bottega Veneta SEX
A two-page ad. The right-hand page shows a scantily clad woman, the left-hand one a room of some sort (and what the hell of a room is that? you might ask). The scanty clothing, as well as the woman’s attitude, eroticizes the advertisement, so the viewer is invited to take a look at the room with erotic thoughts (remember the right-hand page is the first to be seen when one is turning pages, and adverts are strategically placed according to that fact). What sort of a room is this room, then? A very odd and strange one, indeed. The bedstead is a plain metallic structure, the bed linen is minimal and unadorned, with a blanket that looks unpleasantly coarse. The walls are plain and… black. One could almost feel them oozing with humidity. The wooden door looks ominous. The flower drawn on the cushion is the only element that would inspire some feeling other than utter gloom and dejection, but its presence is a cynical joke, because it cannot counterbalance the global effect of the room (it can only divert your brain from analysing the picture as it is truly intended). Where are we? It’s a dungeon cell where the Inquisition keeps its victims, innocent women alleged to be witches, between interrogations in the torture chamber, or it is a cellar fit out by a sexual predator who abducts his victims and locks them in this place to rape them at his will. Victims are attractive women like the one we see on the opposite page. Sometimes advertising taps on weird, weird fantasies, you know.
…………….Case 71 Vogue SEX
This case study will take the form of a question. The young Chinese-looking lady is depicted looking merrily at you and me, frolicking in a street of some Chinatown, the Chinatown of a city in an English-speaking country because the shop signboards are written both in Chinese and English. Just above the woman’s left shoulder, even sticking to it, appears the word ‘parlor’ (not ‘parlour,’ so we might as well be in NYC), from a signboard further behind her. We all know the double meaning of the word ‘parlor,’ and the woman could be a prostitute from this house. Touching her hair are the words ‘hair care,’ but this, certainly, is only a coincidence. Other signboards, on both sides of her, advertise liquors and wines, a staple good for successful socialites and losers just the same. My attention was drawn on the road writings. These writings, partially concealed from our eyes by the woman’s shape, make two lines, and the end letter of each line is S and X respectively (S lying above X). SX is a code name for SEX. It’s been a long time since I last went to NYC, and I wasn’t really interested in reading the road writings either, but I guess the present writings must be very special ones because, from whatever way you read the line with the X-ending (and the picture leaves one at a loss when trying to figure whether the lines must be read from the viewer’s standpoint or from the other side, since the decipherable S, X, I, N are symetrical), I just can’t see what word relevant to street signing the letters NIX, if at the end, or XIN, if at the beginning, can be part of. This is the question I ask to more knowledgeable people. Is it Cantonese in Latin transcript? In case it means nothing and such word does not exist, the artist has taken very bold a step to confront our lizard brains with an SX compound.
…………….Case 72 L’Oréal SEX
One acquaintance to whom I showed my research on subliminal advertising discarded it first-hand telling me, as an account for his intention not to pay attention to it, that advertising today was pornographic at the conscious level, so there was no need to look after subconscious tricks since pornography could be made use of openly by advertisers. Of course he’s right when he says some ads are openly sexual in content, but his inference is nevertheless incorrect. As I said above, subliminals are aimed at peripheral attention (at the brain of people who won’t take a look at the ad – the brain registering it anyway if it has, no matter how quickly, entered the field of sight) and as such are not treated by the brain in the same way as objects entering conscious attention. Even an openly pornographic advert may be bolstered by subliminal sex embeds. Furthermore, advertisers know they can’t play the sex card aboveboard all the time, because it can have adverse effects occasionally, whereas there is no adverse reaction to subliminal sex. Never, as long as it remains subliminal.
Double entendre with words is routine advertising, as even advertisers will admit. If a word has, not as a principal meaning but among its other few, a sexual meaning, you can be sure it has become a catchword. This might be called a subliminal technique, although the double entendre is often recognized by the public, and the idea is therefore to make it look like tongue in cheek – when it would more properly be labeled “in-your-face.” (It’s precisely because of possible adverse reactions to the “in-your-face” effect that aboveboard obscenity is not more frequent in advertising, all in all; subliminal junk is much safer.)
Let’s take this advertisement for L’Oréal as an example. Saving time is in the mind of many consumers, and time-saving devices much sought after. So how do you advertise time-saving? Here the advertisers ask the question “How quick are you?” Need I comment it? How quick are you? refers, tongue in cheek or in-your-face-wise, as you choose to call it, to female orgasm. How quick do you orgasm? is the question, and, if you take the time to analyse it, it means, given the well-known and established time discrepancy between male and female orgasms generally speaking, How likely are you to orgasm? Of course, the discrepancy can be overcome by special techniques and preliminaries, but the seemingly mild, humorous joke is not innocuous at all, inasmuch as it is likely to raise the level of anxiety present in many a viewer, male and female, for the male the anxiety that he is too quick to be a good mate, for the female the anxiety that she won’t find the good mate to gratify her if she’s too slow. The fear, and possibility, of sexual inadequacy makes the advert a grim jest. One response to raised anxiety is compulsive buying. Really, in the phenomenon of advertising, people kiss the hand that beats them, like a dog licking his hard-hearted master’s hand.
Having said this, I don’t even feel the need to extend on “Blow Dry.” You know what it means to blow, sexually, and you’ve also heard of “dry sex,” i.e. sex with clothes on, rubbing one’s body against each other’s. It’s called dry because, if fluid discharge occurs, it remains unnoticed by the mate. The seminal fluid provides the wetness, in the idea, and its absence the dryness. “Blow dry,” thus, means to perform a fellatio until the semen has been discharged and the genitals are, as one would say, emptied of the fluid, and thus temporarily dry. In your face – but those who don’t notice will buy.
…………….Case 73 Guerlain SEX
Dear Madam, have you ever dreamt of being kept in a harem? Of course not. Tell me, then, what is the assumption behind this ad ? The name of the product is Shalimar, from the famous Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, Pakistan, a place associated with the former Moghul rulers of the Indian peninsula, whose Muslim kings, princes, and highnesses were masters of immense harems, filled in large part with the wives and daughters of subdued Hindus. The blonde woman on the picture is sitting naked in a room whose light is provided by the sun through mashrabiya-patterned panels reminiscent of zenanas’ windows. She is, therefore, in the women’s appartments of some Oriental palace, behind the purdah, that is to say in a harem. The fantasy of being one of many, one among many lovers or sexual things at the power of a dominant man, is something real. It dates back to the days of the primitive horde, when our simian ancestors were organized around a dominant male. As some researchers put it (the evolutionary psychologist V. Griskevicius and D. Kenrick, 2013), in those days, as among the primates which still have such social organization, the females would line up and wait for their turn to be inseminated by the alpha male. (The other males only have the right to copulate with infertile females.) I suggest that the fact of female orgasm being scattered among the population (I have found so many different figures, from 30% to 50% to 70%, for women never experiencing orgasm during intercourse that trying any guess seems pointless) may have something to do with this heritage of ours. Many women just won’t have it to the full with nobody but the silverback gorilla, I mean the dominant male. It’s only a conjecture, of course. We know, besides, that women are more promiscuous than gorilla females; the data all point to greater sperm competition among humans, and chimpanzees (of which the dwarf variety is known as the bonobo), than among gorillas. Still, researchers also state that women’s EPC (extra-pair copulations), the scientific name for horns-putting, occurs much more frequently with some types, or rather a certain type – singular – of male.
I have also outlined one sex embed, for good measure. It was easy, for the graphic designer, to embed the word sex among the filigreed shades of the wall panels.
The following cases (53-65) are taken from the French Le Figaro Magazine dated May 22-23, 2015, (Cases 53-58) and Le Figaro Madame that goes with it (59-64). The last one (Case 65) appeared in Vogue, Italian edition, May 2015.
As an introduction to the present cases, I invite you to watch a comprehensive video made by Nathan Bell: The Great Subliminal Message Deception
…………….Case 53 Dior SEX
A sex embed on French actor Alain Delon when young. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
……………..Case 54 Google SEX
Google has designed an advertising campaign aimed at explaining that the company is supporting non-profit organizations. The present ad deals with a French organization whose purpose, as one reads, is to “teach the young good reflexes on the Web,” whatever that means. We are shown a picture where the responsible of that organization, “Thomas” (or rather, certainly, a model who represents him), meets some kids in a classroom.
The kids’ attention seems to focus on one of them, of whom the viewer only sees the back and who wears a salmon-colored jersey. He or she has blond hair. I can’t say for sure whether it’s a boy or a girl; neither the hairdo nor the clothing allows us to draw a four-square conclusion. This kid, boy or girl, points to something or someone that does not appear on the picture. The other kids look either at him/her, or at what or whom he/she is pointing to.
Thomas, on the other hand, the responsible of the Google-sponsored organization, looks at no particular place on the picture. He might be staring at some spot beyond the depicted scene, but he rather looks like someone who is watching nothing in particular. His smile is ecstatic; he just seems to be enjoying what’s going on, and enjoying it intensely.
Now, you may not have noticed it but the head of the boy/girl with the salmon jersey is between Thomas’s legs, at pelvis level. At this stage, ask yourself a question: Is this by accident? Some of you, perhaps most of you would not have noticed this incongruous, even improper perspective had I not pointed to it (in the same way that it took me some time to see it even though I was searching for tricks from the start). The conscious brain, automatically adjusting the overall picture according to perspective laws, overlooks the incongruity. However, on the subconscious level, the superimposition of the child’s head on the man’s genitals will have been recorded. The professional photographer, the art director of the advertising agency responsible for the ad, any person involved and having expertise in graphic techniques should have noticed that the perspective was not right, in fact they could not fail to notice it, and they would have modified it were their intention not to have it that way, but in fact they wanted your lizard brain to record a fellatio between a child and an adult, and they engineered the ad to that end.
…………….Case 55 Stihl SEX
Like in Case 54, another ecstatic man. The copy reads “Do not let nature overshadow you.” It advertises garden machinery and equipment such as hedge trimmers. The picture shows a shadowy garden (where Stihl equipments have not been used) and a man having the intention to make a barbecue. He has placed the grill on the one spot where daylight is available, and is intensely enjoying the rare particles of sunlight falling in his garden, as it seems. Why he should be delighted at all is an enigma, since the copy’s message is that the barbecue is doomed for failure as no one can enjoy an outdoor dinner in such gloom.
However, no matter the logic, showing an ecstatic man tends to make the mirror cells in your brain partake in the same feeling. And if you look inside the grill carefully you will find that the man is enjoying more than just rays of light. The ad has been designed to make your subconscious brain record a fellatio.
…………….Case 56 Domaine Clarence Dillon SEX
In this issue of Le Figaro Magazine there follows a few ads for wines, among several pages of articles (so-called informative content) on the wine business. Let’s begin with this masterpiece (tongue in cheek). The bottle of rosé is an unmistakable penis. The glans is clearly outlined and, true to anatomy, it is particularly sheeny: light reflections of the bottle glass are more numerous and glaring on this part. Furthermore, the graphic designer has succeeded in giving the straight bottle a somewhat curvy shape reminiscent of the penis’s curvature.
A scissors-like image gliding above the penis evokes castration fear. On the left side of the penis, at the glans’s level, is a dripping slit. This can either be a wound inflicted by the scissors, alluding to castration having been carried out, or a female vulva. On the right side is another slit, surrounded by swollen labia. I have also outlined a sex embed.
…………….Case 57 Le Clos Peyrassol SEX
Another wine advertisement. Among the bowl’s reflections, I have outlined a sex embed, a vagina slit that is at the same time a penis thanks to two ice cubes providing the testes, and, on the right hand side of the bowl, a fellatio being performed. The fingers of the fellatio performer (looking toward the right) are apparent, she (he?) has her hand clenched on something that she’s bringing to her mouth.
…………….Case 58 Duval Leroy SEX
This advertisement can be found in both Le Figaro Magazine and Le Figaro Madame. The bottle of champagne wine is surrounded by whitish flower petals. Faces have been drawn among the petals, kissing and licking the penis-like bottle. On the lower side, a grotesque face expresses wonder.
…………….Case 59 Dior Joaillerie SEX
When you open this issue of Le Figaro Madame, you find the present two-page advertisement for jewellery. The advertised jewels represent amethyst and pink quartz roses with gold and diamond bees. But there is more. First of all, I don’t know which gender is the target here, man or woman; probably both are intended, women who buy jewels for themselves and men who buy jewels as gifts. I tend to opine, however, that men make gifts according to their partner’s preferences, and so would buy a Dior jewel if the lady expressed some appreciation of the brand after being exposed to such ads.
The zoomed-on jewel of the left page has been embedded with weird figures and shapes as light reflections. On the lower side (pictures 59-2 & 59-3) a grotesque man’s face has been drawn with the tongue out and erected. The man is licking what looks like a bum. This could be a depiction of metaphoric bumlicking or a sexual act.
On the upper side (pictures 59-4 & 59-5) something awful is going on. I see a woman’s face, crimson-colored (in contrast to the amethyst-colored surrounding), in profile, oriented upwards. One eye, as well as nose and mouth are visible and distinct, however anamorphic the image. I have outlined the contour only, more like a circle around the face, because I couldn’t convey with the help of a computer mouse the expression of this anamorphized visage. This expression is suffering and it could be pleasure as well, the sort of pleasure perverts look for, as encapsulated in the words “it hurts so good.” And I figure the agent of this unbearable pleasure would be the dog-like monster whose eerie face stands just behind the woman’s and which features I have been able to outline (although in a comic-like fashion). The woman is being mounted by a dog! Awful, but consistent with W. B. Key’s findings in the seventies and eighties. Nothing has changed: Only the amount of exposure to advertising has increased 900-fold (for the figures see XXVI, text in French).
…………….Case 60 Céline SEX
Another sex embed for good measure. Some of those embeds are so conspicuous it becomes a pleasure. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
…………….Case 61 Chopard SEX
The lady is supposedly performing some sort of dance. What dance? The position of her hands reminds one of oriental dances (Siamese, Balinese) in which hands’ gestures are codified and have symbolic meanings. These oriental dances originated in sacred dances, especially ancient Hindu dances, performed by sacred prostitutes such as devadasi (slave girls of the gods).
Look carefully at the left hand. The index and middle fingers are disposed in the characteristic manner a woman spreads her genital labia, and the hand itself is more or less at genitals’ level. The ad hints, not very subtly either, at female exhibitionism and masturbation. As I explained on Case 47, this makes perfect sense, given the figures in Hite Report: 70 percent of women won’t experience orgasm if not by ways of masturbation. More conservative figures still make for one third of women being in that case. It’s pretty obvious that advertisers will be intent on trying to associate the products they advertise with sexual climax and thus to evoke the feelings felt during masturbation.
The woman on this ad is sternly dressed, rather like a man, so the creature here dancing is actually a hermaphrodite, which, again, speaks deeply to the onanistic woman’s psyche, because the hermaphrodite is complete per se, whereas gendered beings in order to achieve completeness must look for their other halves, according to the Platonic myth propounded in the Symposium.
…………….Case 62 Dinh Van SEX
The bracelet, attaching both wrists, makes manacles: Bondage. Moreover, the woman is performing a fellatio on a huge, flacid penis, like that of a horse. The left hand holds the glans, the right hand caresses the testes. All this is subliminal pornography. I haven’t drawn the penis because it would allow pornographers to strike my blog down claiming this is pornography… However I think I am making the point clear.
Also, please note that all such ads having not a single world of copy are said to be (including by the American Supreme Court) commercial information. This is how big companies inform us.
…………….Case 63 Lierac SEX
The red splash of lipstick behind the stick evokes female genitals. The lady is looking upward, smiling, presumably to a lover. We can see her left shoulder, but we do not see the arm, so the arm must be tied to her back. She is bound.
Tapping into deviant practices makes perfect sense, again, due to the figures given on Case 61. Women who don’t experience climax in their sexual life are bound to fantasizing a lot more than men, and are likely to be asking themselves if such or such practice would not bring about the fulfillment they long for.
From one of the numerous fashion pages that are a staple of ladies’ magazines, on this depiction, again, of female masturbation, the right hand’s middle finger is conspicuous and points toward the vagina. If you don’t see that it is masturbation that here is alluded to, there’s nothing I can say: you must be some sort of perverted mind…
…………….Case 65 Valentino Garavani SEX
Tapping into weird fantasms, masochism and fear of aggression, this ad depicts a woman’s body lying on the ground. The man has taken her handbag: it must be hers because it matches her boots. So, if I understand well, the man has beaten the girl down while snatching her handbag and she’s now lying on the pavement. The man’s tattoo somehow reinforces this interpretation. Just below the benevolent lion’s head, we can see a woman, on the left, behind which, a bit blurred, are drawn two hoodies with evil stares and angry faces, one clenching his fist.
If the ad is not telling an aggression story, please explain what is going on. You can give your opinion on each post of this blog. Please feel free to correct me and bring the right interpretation of this piece of information, which does not have a single word of copy besides the name of the brand and the name of the product.