Man is like a breath;
His days are like a passing shadow.
- Psalm 144:4 (KJV)
The practice of placing hidden (subliminal) ideas in select print advertisements is a technique used by advertisers. Advertisers know that most people will not spend much time looking at print advertisements. Therefore, hidden (subliminal) ideas, imagery, and words can be placed in print advertisements without immediate detection.
The Dark Side of Subliminal Advertising is a blog site that exposes the advertising technique of placing hidden (subliminal) ideas, imagery, and words in advertisements.
A new blog entry will be presented on the first day of each month.
It is important to realize that ads are not designed for the conscious mind, they are deliberately designed to reach the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind operates under a different set of laws compared to the operations of the conscious mind.
On average, people look at a print ad for no more than two seconds. Therefore the advertiser has two seconds in which to convey a message in order to increase sales.
With this in mind, look closely at this advertising photograph, for a Benson & Hedges advertising campaign, and see if you notice anything interesting:
Before an analysis of this Benson & Hedges advertising photograph is presented, here is some history concerning a revolutionary Benson & Hedges ad campaign.
LANDMARK BENSON & HEDGES AD CAMPAIGN:
At the time that this Benson & Hedges advertising photograph was made in the United Kingdom, government restrictions prevented people from being shown in tobacco advertisements. Therefore, a completely new approach was required for advertising tobacco products.
When the influential advertising agency, Collett Dickenson Pearce (CDP), was asked to produce a campaign for Benson & Hedges cigarettes, the company chose Brian Duffy, one of the most high-profile photographers of the period. 1
Brian Duffy made beautifully crafted and surreal images for the Benson & Hedges campaign including the above advertising photograph entitled “Birdcage.”
“The campaign was an instant success and the images were regularly shown in newspaper and magazine spreads and on advertising hoardings. These images became regarded as some of the most original in the history of advertising and garnered a number of industry awards.” 2
So successful was Brian Duffy’s work that “the campaign’s style was effectively borrowed piecemeal for campaigns to come for decades and decades, with its playful mis-sizing of common objects and substitution of specific objects in familiar scenarios with cigarette packets.” 3
The symbolism in this ad is incredible in its relation to cigarette smoking.
The cage symbolizes an addiction that there is no escape from. The pack of cigarettes in the cage is the object of addiction:
A bird who is trapped in a cage can be associated with a smoker who is trapped by a nicotine addiction.
Notice that there is no physical bird in the cage, but there is a shadow of a bird in the cage reflected on the wall:
A shadow is a symbol of sadness, danger, and death.4
The phrase “a shadow of one's former self” represents someone who is not as strong, healthy, full, or lively as before. 5
The phrase “shadow of death” means “darkness or gloom like that caused by the presence or the impending of death.” 6
Here is a description of the shadow of death as mentioned in the Holy Bible:
Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.
Job 10:21-22 (KJV)
In this advertising photograph, the shadow of the bird represents a smoker who has died due to an addiction to smoking. Death was the only means of escape from the cage of addiction.
The bird (smoker) is dead and gone, leaving behind a shadow of the memory of the deceased and a pack of cigarettes.
The pack of cigarettes, in the cage of addiction, symbolizes that the cigarette company continues to prosper and thrive as the consumer continues to face the shadow of death.
“The smoker’s death means a replacement customer must be found – and the cycle begins again.” 7
“Trapped by nicotine addiction, the smoker is subject to a variety of sub-lethal illnesses which culminate in a one in two probability of death through smoking-related disease.” 8
“The annual global death toll caused by smoking is 4 million. By 2030, that figure will rise to 10 million with seventy percent of those deaths occurring in developing countries.” 9
THE NEXT BLOG ENTRY TO BE
POSTED ON JULY 1, 2013: