10 advertising and marketing examples with subliminal messages

April 18, 2018
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10 advertising and marketing examples with subliminal messages

The subliminal message is one of the elements that most attract attention in advertising, film, art or television. A subliminal message is a message or signal designed to pass below (sub) the normal limits (liminal) of perception.

Among its examples, we can mention a message included in a song, which is inaudible to the conscious mind but audible to the unconscious mind, or an image transmitted so briefly (such as one-tenth of a second) that goes unnoticed by the conscious mind but, even so, can be perceived unconsciously. The person may not perceive the message consciously, but subconsciously.

The detection of subliminal messages in advertising, literature, film or television is quite a feat, sometimes resulting in a word shaped by elements such as clouds or chairs, or simply finding an element placed in the scene which changes all its meaning.

The Simpsons TV series, broadcasted since 1989 on FOX channel, is a habitual space which parodies and criticizes all type of elements. The subject of the subliminal message was treated with special emphasis on chapter number 14 of the 12th season of the series, entitled “New Kids on the Bleecch”.

In this chapter of the series, the character of Bart Simpson, one of the protagonists, becomes part of a boy band along three other schoolmates. This band is promoted by a strange character called L.T. Smash, who will later be discovered to be a member of the United States Navy. In one of the songs of the band, one can hear a mysterious message that says “Yvan eht nioj”, that when read backwards means “Join The Navy”.

Although it may be a parody of subliminal messages, The Simpsons episode summarizes quite correctly the purpose of these messages and how they are transmitted. In addition to the audible message, the video contains some keyframes, such as the image of Uncle Sam inviting to join the Navy. These two ways, the audio game and hidden frames, are very common in the launch of subliminal messages.

Does the subliminal message exist in advertising?

The answer is positive. Advertising does not escape the phenomenon of the subliminal message either. In fact, the main objective of many subliminal messages on platforms other than those aimed at pure and hard advertising is to advertise and promote a specific product that due to legal issues or bureaucratic obstacles, cannot be otherwise done.

Given the vast number of citizens seeking subliminal messages in all types of media, some advertisers have begun to include elements that satisfy the interest of this type of collective and end up giving free advertising to the brand.

To better discover what kind of subliminal messages exist in advertising and marketing, we have compiled 10 examples with which we can discover how advertisers use this unorthodox resource in their products:

1.- Amazon

Subliminal messages

Amazon does not carry out subliminal advertising when selling products to you, but its logo hides a subliminal message that you may not have noticed yet.

The Amazon logo includes a kind of arrow at the bottom of the first 4 letters of the company name. This arrow joins the ends of two letters, the letter A and the letter Z. Some theories about subliminal messages say that it is a way of telling the customer that in this store you can find all kinds of products, from A to Z.

The case of Amazon is one of the most subtle when it comes to using a subliminal message. The cleanness of the logo itself makes the user not even realize that something strange is hidden, but analyzing it in depth brings to light this detail that has surely caught your attention.

2.- FedEx

Subliminal messages

Another case of logos hiding a message. The courier company FedEx (abbreviation of Federal Express) hides a subtle message shaped by two of its letters.

The letters E and X of the logo, when joined, form the shape of the arrow between them. It can be a way of expressing the speed with which they work, and the straightforwardness of their service. The arrow reinforces the message of the Ex (Express) letters Ex, giving the company logo a whole new level.

3.- Marlboro

Subliminal messages

The tobacco company, sponsor of the Scuderia Ferrari since 1993, has been one of the most affected by the advertising legislation of Formula 1.

The biggest automotive competition in the world doesn’t have a specific regulation on advertising carried by the teams, but it does use the legislation of each country, on which the advertising shown in the cars must be based.

In spite of the legal obstacles to advertising brands of tobacco and alcohol in Europe, Marlboro has managed to remain present in one of the most representative cars of the competition, the Ferrari. In the 90s and early 2000s, Marlboro chose to include a blank fragment in the cars; from the mid-2000s it was replaced by a bar code, which let us suspect the brand’s own logo, but since 2010, the bar code was considered a subliminal message, so Ferrari included its own logo instead of the barcode, although it was modified to look like the Marlboro one.

4.- Coca Cola

Subliminal messages

Coca-Cola has always been a controversial company in regards to this field. Some people say that their bottle is shaped like a woman, inviting sex. Nor is it time to analyze if the bottle has one way or another, but to bring one of the most controversial messages on the Internet.

In the movie “The Lord of the Rings”, when the character played by Elijah Wood takes the ring, one can see an inscription on it. Among the letters, illegible to most people, one can see with some clarity the words Coca-Cola. Subliminal advertising, product placement, or just a way to play with the viewer?

5.- Coca Cola vs. Pepsi

Subliminal messages

Okay, this example may not be very subliminal, but the idea that both companies want to transmit really is. A single image, but two totally opposite messages.

The fight between Pepsi and Coca-Cola is well known, but in this campaign, the fight is appreciated in a much more bitter way. In the first image (left), Pepsi wants to imply that people dressed up as Coca-Cola people would be scared. In contrast, in the second image (right), Coca-Cola uses the same image and conveys the message that with Coca-Cola all are heroes, something that everyone would like to be.

6.- Disney

Subliminal messages

Disney is constantly under suspicion for the use of subliminal messages. The scenes of “The Lion King” in which words are written in the sky are very famous, but some believe that the subtlety of Disney reached its peak with the logo of one of his most successful films, “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

The image of the skull of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) with the two torches behind is interpreted by many as reminiscent of the company logo, the head of Mickey Mouse. The torches would represent the ears of the famous mouse, while the head would continue to fulfill its function. Do you see a subliminal message on this logo?

7.- Hope For African Children Initiative

Subliminal messages

Do you see two faces in the Hope for African Children Initiative logo? You are right because that’s the way it is: there are two faces in the logo of this initiative launched in 2000 to denounce the problems that many children in Africa go through.

The image, kind to the one who sees it, is a way of transmitting the familiarity and closeness of the initiative, which is saying that it helps children and that it’s an initiative launched by people and for people.

8.- NBC

Subliminal messages

For those who know American television, this logo will not hide any message, but if it is the first time you are paying attention, we tell you about it. The logo of the NBC, an American television network, is a peacock, and the silhouette of the animal is drawn in white and the tail in colors.

The logo of the company included a peacock between 1962 and 1975, then disappeared until 1979, when this animal was reintroduced for 7 years. Since the mid-80s, the animal is not so visible to the naked eye, as it was relegated to a simple white silhouette between 6 colored stripes.

9.- Toyota

Subliminal messages

The Toyota logo is an imagotype with many possibilities. Did you know that it is possible to form each and every one of the letters of the company with its logo?

Subliminal messages

Taking parts of the logo itself, it will reminisce the letters that make up the word Toyota. It is a logo designed in such a way that it reminisces at all times the word that identifies the brand.

10.- SFX Magazine

Subliminal messages

The logo of SFX magazine, dedicated to the world of science fiction, is a changing element that suggests something just by hiding part of it. It is common for some covers to hide the bottom of the letter F with the head of the protagonist of the cover which suggests that the real title is “Sex”.

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