Posted on October 03, 2003 by Steve

Years ago I read a book called Media Sexploitation about subliminal advertising. It was full of examples of ads with dirty words hidden in them: a cigarette ad with a tiny word "CANCER" hidden in a photo, gruesome images of severed heads faintly visible in the ice cubes of a scotch ad, vague sexual references in drain cleaner commercials. The thesis seemed to be that an ad is made more eye-catching and memorable if taboo or dissonant ideas are conveyed just below the conscious level. Mostly crap I'm sure, but it was a great lesson in looking for subtext. A movie ad in the newspaper was smaller, grayscale, and therefore more subtle than this, and it caught my eye from across the page as a rare example.