Saturday, September 19, 2009

Subliminal Messaging in Advertisements

Initially this advertisement of coke may seem like just any other image of a refreshing beverage placed in a bucket of ice, but on a closer look one can see that there is in fact, more than meets the eye. Advertisers have since long ago been accused of incorporating subliminal messages into their advertisements and coke is no different; it is apparent from the enlarged picture on the right that there is highly sexualized imagery embedded in the ice cube. In fact, the red objects are an outline of a face as well as male genetalia. Shocking?

Another more obvious example of sexual imagery in advertisements is one of Pepsis’ which was released in 1990:

What appears as a cool, creative, innovative type of design on the Pepsi cans actually spells out "sex" when two cans are placed on top of each other. Coincidence? I think not. Subliminal messages full of sexual imagery are so often incorporated stealthily into advertisements in order to raise sales. Usually subliminal messages are directed to our primary needs, so if sex is something humans need and want then we will unconsciously associate the product with being something that we need and want and sales will improve. Sometimes subliminal messages (such as in the Pepsi ad) are added so blatantly in order to attract a lot of attention and raise sales.

An example of non-sexual subliminal messaging is in this KFC advertisement (I'm sorry for some reason I can't seem to add the videos!!) :

In this advertisement which advertises a chicken burger, a dollar bill is purposely posted on a piece of lettuce wedged between a burger. I know this is blatantly obvious (I actually think this was done for a competition where whoever could spot the dollar bill would get a prize or something), but by doing this people who see the advertisement subconsciously associate the burger with being very cheap and in turn will probably go to KFC and purchase more of them.

Subliminal messages aren’t only embedded in advertisements but in Disney movies as well (I am sure many of you have heard of Disney adding sexual imagery to their movies, there's a lot in the Lion King and The Little Mermaid)!! This is one image from The Rescuers:

If you look closely in the window in the back there is a naked woman! If you go on youtube you can find a lot more of these images. No wonder our society is one that is becoming increasingly obsessed with sex, children are unconsciously absorbing sexual imagery at such a young age.

It is almost shocking how advertisements are filled with sexual imagery that so often goes unnoticed- at least by our conscious selves. And while we think we have so much conscious control over not being manipulated by advertisements, our unconscious selves are simultaneously making all these decisions for what we should and shouldn’t buy all because of some sexual imagery placed in an advertisement.


  1. wow
    this is reallly good
    I haven't paid enough attention to TV then, because I just never realized.

    Great examples!

  2. Disney actually recalled millions of copies of The Rescuers because of this frame, but one would need to pause the tape and fast forward frame by frame to find it. Disgruntled employee?

    I'm going to touch on The Little Mermaid later today, which has two somewhat well known "subliminal" messages. One is real, and the other is fake. Any guesses?

  3. I am not going to lie; I love that Disney's own employees cannot stand its faux wholesome image. These employees have infiltrated from the inside and have a little fun in throwing Disney a little bit of controversy. I mean, after all, Disney began its life by creating cartoons for adults. The content of Disney's original cartoons in the 1920s (or basically before it started making propaganda films for the US during WWII) contained much more vulgar imagery. Serves the Disney corporation right for copping out and hiding behind its family-friendly marketing ploy.