As I'm reading most of the replies to this thread, about the only one that didn't make me groan and shake my head were from MNIceman (who somehow
has Pisky's avi???), because I know exactly the ads that he was talking about.
Okay, reader, if you want an education, keep reading. If you just came to see the pretty eye candy, then scroll down to the "Examples" part. But
please, for the love of god, if you're going to call something an apple, it's best for you to know what the hell an apple is first.
Subliminal messages are not obvious, nor is it the same as innuendo
. Babes hanging on a guy in a beer add, a guy rescuing a cat out of a tree,
an actual line of dialogue during a film, making the consumer feel like their product is needed, wanted, or will make the consumer cool, and catchy
slogans are all standard and quite legal examples of what is not
subliminal advertising, but merely marketing
Also, subliminal messages are not "mind control devices". This use of subliminal messages can only be effective if the influence is specifically
related to the consumer's unconscious desires, or what they believe to be important to them. For instance, a vegetarian cannot be subliminally made
to desire meat, unless they truly in their heart desired it.
So what, then, makes for a subliminal message? There are three main types in my own experience:
- Placement - Subliminal Placement is a
visual medium in which the objects constituting the whole picture are arranged in such a way as to not be obviously seen, yet recognized by the
subconscious mind as a archetypical shape appealing to "baser instincts, fears, and faculties". The Deuce Bigalow poster that
WilsonianNotch12 was a parody of this form of advertising as it was obvious enough to be be dismissed, but of the examples given so far, it's
the closest I've seen to one.
Some other examples of Placement are as follows. See if you can find what's wrong with them before reading the explanation:
Note, the advertisement is for boots. It's got O.J. Simpson. He's always on the move...AND HE'S GOT THREE LEGS. The third leg just kind of
disappears up into his crotchable area. "The third leg" is a rather common euphemism for a man's genitalia, and the entire effect is "framed" by
the lettering "OJ Dingo" which forces the reader to stare into OJ's Crotch. Even the expression he carries, and his gestures almost comical aspect
to the whole thing. It's as if he is saying "Look, look at my giant schlong! How did it ever get that large, you ask? It's the boots."
Okay, that one was pretty easy. This next one is a lot more subtle.
Anything strike you as odd about this advertisement at all? How about the fact that they are all dressed in black, in suits, wearing bowler hats, and
hanging lifelessly from their respective numbers? How about the fact that they are rising up into the sky from Earth, into the beyond? They're all
dead, and being carried off. Now why would an advertiser do such a thing? What's the benefit in making your audience think of Death when viewing your
advertisement? That's a toughie. Some say that it is because people who engage in typically unhealthy vices either do so because they wish to court
death, others say they do it in order to stop thinking about death. Perhaps both are true, hence the effectiveness of death themes in tobacco and
liquor ads. In this one case, a third tier to what I've been taught is added. "Our Cigarettes will take you to Heaven".
Now that you've seen that ad and the explanation, this one should be bluntly obvious.
Note that the same effect applies. The bodies are stiff, lifeless, dressed in dark suits, bowler hats, and instead of rising up into heaven, they are
looking at deep holes in the ground (burial plots). Add to that the fall colors, when everything on Earth begins to die, a barren planet, and the
sunset again and you've got another advert screaming "Hooray Death!"
Okay, think you've gotten good at spotting placements? Here's the hardest one for you, last.
The image itself is enough to make me cry, though not as much as if it'd been a bottle of Glenmorangie. However, there are images of death, and
horror all over this advert, hidden in the shape of the glass, liquid, and reflections. For those who might say "you can see anything in anything if
you look hard enough" I would be normally inclined to agree. In this case, however, I would argue that this is not a photograph. It is a
photo-realistic painting. The entire image was designed purposefully. Secondly, it ran for almost 20 years. There is no way in hell a company uses an
advert for that long unless it was incredibly effective. Thirdly, it ties in heavily with nightmarish imagery that is common to "Vice
Among the hidden images that can be found in this advert are: a meat cleaver blade, multiple anarchy symbols, a raven, a shark, a soldier's camo-net
helmet, a skull of a bird, some sort of long-nosed demon face, a bottle pouring liquid, and a hook.
And then, below it all... "Have you ever seen a grown man cry?"
The sheer sick and twisted brilliance of this advert is that any or all of these images could apply to the history or subconscious of an alcoholic
(the heaviest buying market for liquor companies). Usually they are drinking to chase away their demons, almost all of which are related to death. The
advert simultaneously reminds the viewer that these demons exist (triggering the response for another drink) AND associates it with the breaking of a
precious bottle of their elixir. If the bottle breaks, the demons are released, and you will cry.
Moving on, we find the next level of subliminal messages:
Sound - Sounds can be placed subliminally in a variety of ways, through backmasking, changing the speed, overlaying against white noise,
stuttered patterns, or extremes of volume. Some are obvious when pointed out, some are subtle enough to require sound-editing to actually filter them
Some examples of subliminal sounds are:
- In Disney's "Aladdin", when Aladdin is outside of Jasmine's balcony, and the Genie is in bee form, turn the volume up quite a bit
and listen extremely carefully. Aladdin says something, then the genie says something, and right before Jasmine replies you can hear someone whisper
"take off your clothes". Whether or not this was meant as a subliminal message to increase the sexuality of the next scene, or if it was a
disgruntled employee, or an editing accident, this is an example of subliminal sound by volume control. (note: I had this one proven to me two days
ago. It is quite verifiably true)
- Wierd Al Yankovic has enjoyed the use of backmasking in at least two of his songs. On the "3D" album, a bit past halfway through "Nature
Trail To Hell", there is a short non-vocal musical score with some backmasked lyrics. If played backwards, you can hear "Satan eats cheese whiz"
said in a very gutteral voice. (note: again, this was proven to me about 4 years ago and is quite verifiable). On the "Bad Hair Day" album, near the
end of "I Remember Larry" where Al repeatedly sings "Yes, I remember, remember, remember...", there is supposedly another backwards message that
says, "Wow, you must really have a lot of free time on your hands". (note: not personally verified, but sounds like something he'd do)
- The original Exorcist, among many other sound techniques, has "You are getting sick" slowed down to an unintelligable speed during a
particularly grisly scene. (note: not personally verified by me, but personally verified by the same teacher who taught my course on subliminal
messages, back in high school)
Have fun with those. Now let's move on to something ruder...
- Flashes - Flashes are a visual image that would be bluntly obvious if left on the screen for long enough, but because of the speed and
distraction with which it appears, it becomes a subliminal message.
Such examples of this are:
The famous Lion King "Sex" scene in Disney's "The Lion King". The clouds form the word "SEX". This is not nearly as suggestive as the next one
Note, the naked woman in the window. That is the "flash". However, in this scene, we see this combined with "placement" as well. Check out the
position of the mice, the shapes created by the sardine tin that they are in, and the rolled up lid, where Victoria's (I think that's her name)
hands are, and the expression on both of their faces. Combined with the "flash" of naked woman, this is quite possibly the naughtiest Disney scene
However, it should be noted that most likely, these scenes were placed by pranksters within the ranks of Disney's terribly disgruntled and mistreated
employees. I seriously doubt Disney as a company would have any interest in selling sex to kids. Perhaps, if anything, it's to keep the parents
interested, but I'm more inclined to believe it's an angry editor or artist getting even.
There's really a lot more to subliminal messages than just what I've outlined. It should also be noted that technically, what most people think of
as subliminal is actually only semi-subliminal. However, I hope that I have managed to demonstrate the differences between what has been called
subliminal in this thread so far, and what is actually
subliminal (or semi-subliminal).