Parliament Ad #2

“What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?" - Hal Borland

This is Part 2 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 running away from a series of numbers.  It won’t be long until one of the numbers (number 7) catches up with him and overtakes him.

The man who is running down the hill represents a smoker who is rapidly approaching the end of his life.

The man is running for his life as he is being chased by numbers.  Notice that he is on the decline of a hill.  This decline symbolizes the decline of the man’s health due to smoking.  

The man is going downhill quickly.


Here are some idioms concerning the word “downhill”:

“Downhill all the way” means “Deteriorating or declining from this point on, as in ‘When the cancer couldn't be removed, it was downhill all the way for him.’” 1

“Going downhill fast” means “Toward a lower or worse condition: The alcoholic's health went downhill fast.” 2

"It's all downhill from here" means that a situation is expected to get progressively worse (without ever getting better) in the future. 3


The number 7 is the closest number to the man.  This number 7 is the smoker’s designated number.  It will just be a matter of time before the smoker’s number is up (number 7).

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “When your number is up, you are going to die.” 4

Here are some idioms concerning the phrase “number is up”:

“If someone's number is up” it means “they are going to die or to suffer.” 5

“One's number is up” means “One's time to die—or to suffer some other unpleasantness—has come.” 6

“Number is up” means “One is doomed, ruined, finished; one is dead or about to die.” 7

3.     SUNSET

The orange and yellow colors in the background of this advertisement represent a sunset.

Sunset “has always been associated with the symbol of death.” 8

The sunset can symbolize someone’s death or overthrow. 9

A dictionary definition of overthrow is “to bring about the downfall or destruction of, especially by force or concerted action.” 10

The effects of smoking have overthrown the man’s health.


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

The Autumn of Life “refers to the last portion of one's life. It is a metaphor which likens one's life to the season when the time for planting, growing, and flowering is over, when the temperatures begin to drop, and the days become shorter. The leaves on the trees drop, and the natural world edges toward dormancy. It is the time when one's death is closer than one's birth.” 11

As mentioned earlier, the man in the advertisement is on the decline of a hill.

According to the dictionary, one definition of the word “Autumn” is “the early stages of decline: to be in the autumn of one's life.” 12


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

“Color psychology reveals how different hues, tones and shades subconsciously affect appetites and moods. The psychological effects of color can even include depression.” 13

Since the ad relates to the smoker’s “August of Life”, the prominent colors in this ad are orange, yellow, and brown; followed by the cool colors of blue and purple.


Orange is the color of fall and harvest. 14  The color orange can be found in nature in the fall season, autumn leaves, and a sunset. 15

Orange is used to draw attention – such as the caution signal on a traffic light. 16

Caution serves as “a warning against danger.” 17

The warning label at the bottom left corner of this print advertisement reads:

“Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health.”

The color orange is used by U.S. intelligence agencies to denote a high threat level when dealing with terrorist activities. 18


The psychological properties of yellow include “Irrationality, fear, emotional fragility, depression, anxiety, suicide.” 19

The color yellow can be anxiety producing as it is fast moving and can cause people to feel agitated. 20


Brown can create feelings of sadness and isolation. 21

Dark brown is strong, yet sad and depressive. 22


Dark blue evokes feelings of sadness. 23

Blue can also be cold and depressing. 24

According to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, “the color blue can slow down the rate of your pulse and lower body temperature.” 25

Remember that August is the season where temperatures begin to drop.


Purple can also be described as a color of cruelty, arrogance or mourning. 26

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.” 27

Cigarette smoking causes about 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States each year. 28

Wordwide, approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco (one in 10 adult deaths). 29