Parliament Ad #1

“The life of man is a winter's day and a winter's way.” - Thomas D’Urfey

This is Part 1 of the Parliament print advertisement series.

The practice of placing subliminal themes 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, subliminal themes can be placed in print advertisements without immediate detection.

Color Psychology is also used by advertisers to create an effect on the subconscious 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.

With this in mind, look closely at this advertisement and see if you can discover the subliminal theme:


This man is all alone in a lifeboat.  Why isn’t he in an ocean liner where he would be safe from the icy cold weather?  The threat of hypothermia exists in this environment.

There is no ocean liner.  There is no land.  This man is all alone in an icy cold environment. 

He is in a lifeboat that is keeping him alive temporarily. 

The man is wearing black clothes.

The man in the lifeboat represents a smoker who is rapidly approaching the end of his life. 

There are many icebergs (represented by numbers) in the ocean.  The iceberg number 10 is the closest iceberg to the man.  Although the man is rowing the lifeboat, he will soon be unable to escape death’s icy grip.

The number 10 is the smoker’s designated number.  It will just be a matter of time before the smoker’s number is up (number 10). 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “When your number is up, you are going to die.” 1


The man portrayed in this advertisement is at his “Winter of Life.”

The “Winter of Life” usually “comes with old age but circumstances of life such as crippling illnesses, massive injuries, misfortunes, etc. may fast forward it. And it is linked with ill-health, forced inactivity, paucity of funds, bereavements, loneliness, sadness, insecurity, anger, regret, etc. Also, it reminds people that their lives may be coasting to an end.” 2


Through color psychology, colors relating to depression and death are presented at a subliminal level in this print advertisement.

According to Louis Cheskin, the founder of the Color Research Institute:

Color effect is on an unconscious level.  People are not aware that they are affected by color or how they are affected by specific colors.  Experiments and tests with colors…have shown that each specific color has a distinct psychological effect on people.  A color has a direct effect on an individual’s emotions.” 3


Blue is a color that is associated with a feeling of sadness and depression. 4

The color blue also symbolizes coldness, ice, winter. 5

The feeling of blue can either be uncaring or cold. 6

According to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, “the color blue can slow down the rate of your pulse and lower body temperature.” 7


There is a lot of white in this advertisement, especially the background for the ad copy.

“Too much white can give feelings of separation and can be cold and isolation.” 8

The color white connotes winter, snow, death, cold. 9


As noted above, the man is wearing black clothes and a black hat.  He is dressed for his own funeral. 

“One funeral custom [in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s] was that everyone wore all black. The women wore black taffeta dresses, and the men wore black suits and a black hat.” 10

The color black is the universal symbol of death. 11

Black is associated with death and mourning in many cultures. 12

The color black connotes silence, sadness, remorse, fear, unhappiness. 13


The man is in a purple colored life boat.  This lifeboat will soon become the man’s coffin.

The color purple connotes cruelty and mourning. 14


The icebergs (designated by numbers) are a combination of white and a gray-green color.

It is very interesting that the advertiser chose this odd color of gray-green instead of blue for the icebergs.

There is a reason that this odd color of gray-green has been selected:

Darker and grayer greens “remind us of decay and death and can actually have a detrimental effect on physical and emotional health.” 15

The numbers on the icebergs, as indicated by the gray-green color, represent the numbers that are up for dead smokers.



Interestingly, nicotine causes skin temperature to drop. 16

With nicotine, the “blood vessels become constricted and the skin temperature drops, producing effects not unlike exposure to cold temperatures.” 17

“Smoking a single cigarette can cause the temperature of the fingers and toes to drop as much as 15 degrees Fahrenheit; the average is a little more than a 5-degree drop. The temperature change results from constrictions of the blood vessels at the extremities.” 18


Earlier it was stated that the color blue can also slow down the rate of a person’s pulse and lower body temperature.  There is a reason the color blue was chosen for this advertisement because the color blue relates to a drop in body temperature.


The man in this ad is exposed to the threat of hypothermia.  Hypothermia is a condition in which the body's core temperature begins to drop due to exposure to cold.  With hypothermia, a person’s skin and lips will turn blue. 19

4.    DEATH:

When a person is dying, there “is a dramatic drop in blood pressure resulting in very cold hands and feet.” 20

“After the heart stops beating, the body immediately starts turning cold. This phase is known as algor mortis, or the death chill.” 21

When death occurs, “the body loses heat progressively until it equilibrates with that of the surrounding medium. The rate of this heat loss is approximately 1.5 degrees per hour until the environmental temperature is attained, then it remains stable.” 22


This is gruesome, but worth noting that the colors chosen for this print advertisement (blue, white, purple, green, black) are the colors that appear on the human body after death occurs:

The hands and feet turn blue. 23

"The lips, finger and toe nails fade to a pale color or turn white as the blood leaves."24

The purpling of the skin occurs as rigor mortis starts to set in. 25

A greenish-blue color will spread to the rest of the body. 26

Eventually, the body will turn black in color. 27

For a further explanation as to why an association with death and cigarettes would be presented in a cigarette print advertisement, read the above link in this blog entitled “Tobacco Advertising.”


Recent results from a 50-year study “found that almost half of all persistent cigarette smokers were killed by their habit, and a quarter died before age 70.” 28

Cigarette smoking causes about 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States each year. 29

Wordwide, approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco (one in 10 adult deaths). 30