When I was in 6th grade, I read Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key. That was the beginning of my interest in Advertising. It was the point at which I realized there is so much more behind an ad. An ad is not just an ad; it's art. There are hidden messages in advertisements and logos that we oftentimes don't see up front.
With Mad Men on AMC, my interest in vintage advertisements has been rekindled.
First, let's take a look at a couple logos we see on a regular basis. Tostitos for instance, did you notice the two people eating chips and salsa in the "tit"?
How about the FedEx logo? Did you see the arrow between the "E" and "X", indicating movement?
If you look at the "our", combined with the yellow dot, you'll see a cyclist in the Tour de France logo.
Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. They tell you so in the pink part of the "B" and the "R".
Hmmmmm... Owls eyes? "O"'s? Or.... Hooters?
This post wouldn't be complete without mentioning the new Wendy's logo. Wendy's claims it was unintentional, but the word "mom" is spelled out in the logo on Wendy's collar.
Advertising agencies learned a long time ago that sex sells but rules banning certain subliminal messaging have been put in place. Some brands still find a way to incorporate it, but let's take a look at some of the advertisements before those bans were in effect. These brands were true innovators in setting the stage for what advertising has become today.
We'll start with a couple easy ones. See the "Sexplosion" on this Skittles package?
How about a Hiney? Don't see it? Flip this ad upside-down.
This one becomes quite a bit more promiscuous...
...when you flip it upside-down.
Land O' Lakes uses a technique called displacement to play tricks on your mind.
Here's what you see subconsciously.
Palmolive uses a different technique. If you look closely at the arm in this image, it is a man's arm, not the woman's arm, as you initially think. The man is out of the image otherwise, but the ad is subliminally implying there is more than meets the eye.
Absolut vodka isn't so subliminal...
This one is a little harder to see. Let's start with the second ice cube from the bottom. Do you see the letter "E"? Now look at the ice cube above it and you'll be able to make out the letter "S". Of course the "X" is a little more difficult to distinguish, but I bet you'll never look at this ad the same.
I remember this one from back in high school. The Camel logo has been known for being controversial for quite some time now.
There have been several theories as to what subliminal messaging is on this cigarette pack. Here is one of them.
Even the more modern version of Joe Camel is considered to be controversial.
I couldn't really see it until the author of Subliminal Manipulation blog Photoshop-ed a Michelangelo's David.
By the way -- Click the image to find even more examples.
Coca-Cola? No! Really?!
Take a look at this vintage Australian ad by Coke. The messages are difficult to notice but when you blow up the image, they are definitely there.
Here is a more recent example. Starting with the second bottle from the left -- Pomegranate. You can make out the yellow letter "S" near the top right of the label, mixed in with the green. The flamingo's head and neck, on the third bottle from the right make a lower case letter "E". You know what's next... See the "X" in the windmill on the fourth bottle from the left?
If you need a gag gift for your friend's birthday, get them a bottle of Pomegranate, a bottle of Acai Blueberry and a bottle of Dutch Caramel Van Gogh vodka. It'll be a fun gift to explain!
By Tonya Cardinali