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Subliminals in Cigarette Advertising

by Behemoth (January 2001)
with a small addition by +Forseti
with a puzzled conclusion and some minor editing work by fravia+

Bullshit? Excessive paranoid reversing? I don't know. Could be, of course... but after having re-looked at the images a second time I wouldn't say so. Behemoth found A LOT of hidden images. +Forseti pointed out the skull. Someone really believes that all this could be casual? From a mathematical point of view, the chances that these images are casual amount to 0.000000032.
Hence it is worth pointing out that such a pavlovian reading is INDEED possible. And maybe even PROBABLE.
What for a beautiful society we live in... your ancestral libido harnessed to trick you into buying some fags.

Nothing is casual   +ORC
You may want to read also
Rhetoric of advertisement, a "Marlboro Classic" Advertisement analyzed and Subliminal Advertising

Subliminals in Cigarette Advertising

by Behemoth

Click to enlarge

Nice advertising, isn't it? This image campaign started in 1999 in Europe. I remember the day I saw it for the first time at a subway station. "Strange", I thought. "A cigarette box in an ice cube?" Wandering about this absurd composition I remembered of what I had learned about subliminal techniques hidden inside advertisement crap. Ice cubes! There had been a famous story about female bodies hidden in the structures of ice cubes... on purpose of course, in order to give men a concealed sexual stimulus... pavlovnianly linked to the product.

So I started rambling my look across this image. After a while I recognized that my look was fixed again and again to some certain places in this advertisement, but I have not been able to tell what was the glue that fixed my eyes.

Playing this game again and again I have found a lot of hidden traps now for optical associations. In this essay I will show you some of them. There are a lot more! You will find them easily when you play the same game with this advertising for yourself.
Hint: Do not try to analyze the structures systematically! You will find more traps when you pause and look again at this image as if you know nothing about it.
Click to enlarge Now, what the first shapes were I found myself? Let's start at the upper left corner! 

Here you will find a figure that reminds of an angel or a woman. Well that is nice. Though this seems not to be a very sexual symbol it can get a more sexual content when you are a bit more stimulated by the other anchors I will show you later. Once thinking or associating in sexual contexts you might fantasize about a woman (or an angel ;-) ) that is doing something pleasant with her hands to someone, maybe you?
Maybe you'll also notice the wide eyes and big mouth 'appeal' in the billboard...
Look!She's directly staring you with her mouth wide open... Click to enlarge

The caressing angel

Click to enlarge Directly under the caressing angel you will recognize a pair of people, standing face to face. The left one (may be a woman?) is putting her hand to the genital region of the right person. (Well, they might be holding each others hand as well.) I have not done any editing to this part of the image - so you may need some time of looking at this scene before you recognize the shape of the arms, legs, the tight of the woman and so on...
Once you have this scene in your mind you should have a look again at the original image. Then you will see the pair in the original scan even better than in this cutted part. Please try this, it is worth investing some time.

The pair, doing something with their hands.

Now we're rambling to the right side of the image. The biggest shape that first fixed my look was this structure. 
For a long time I have not been able to tell, what exactly sucked my eyes to this place. Then I found that the structure in the middle remembered me to the center part of a nice slender female body. I saw the navel, the middle line going up to the rips and a triangle of black pubic hair. After that I found the whole length of legs down to the basis of the ice cube. The upper parts of the body are not described distinctly. In the version at the right I have made some attempts to mark arms and head where I suppose them to be. In fact when you look a bit longer at this picture you even will be able to recognize a very pretty female face!

This has been very amusing so far, but in the next we will go to have some anchors to oral sex and finally a couple having sexual intercourse!

Click to enlargefemale body
Click to enlarge
"Supergirl" and moaning women
Going to the right we will find another very interesting Composition of sexual attributes. Look at the image on the left. This part is located in the lower corner right next to the cigarette box. 
We find a female body that I have called "the Supergirl". The "Supergirl" is directly feeding men's lolita fantasies. With a far to big head she has the figure of a little girl, but her sexual attributes are those of a super woman. We find a wide opened mouth, very large breasts and a very small waist like a wasp. Her look is demonic. Is she yelling "Stick something into my wide opened mouth"? Let's hope that all the painter had in mind, was to stick a cigarette there!
To the right we have a series of slightly distorted female faces with open mounds that are superimposed by the edge structures of the ice cube. But once you know about them you will find them easily in the original scan.
Look at the second version of this image now with slightly enhanced contrast. The only editing I have done to the original piece is adding the small black lines for the outlines of face and arm. I think the erotic content is obvious. 
Click to enlarge
The "Supergirl"
enhanced contrast 
and lines added 

Having gone so far we might expect to finally find an image of clear sexual intercourse, because that is what all the thoughts before are pointing to. Now, where you would put this final signal in an advertising campaign for a western customer?
Well, the solution is easy: Looking at an image, a painting, a movie scene is heavily influenced by our normal cultural use. In fact an European or American man always will start looking at the upper left corner. Than, finally, he will end at the lower right. So let's have a look at the lower right!
Damn. We cannot see much, because they have cut out the image to place a nice slogan there. But look a while at the scene above to word "test"! Yes, there is something, but it is not clear. No problem, there has been an earlier version of this campaign where they had not cutted out this part. I  have a scan of this earlier version too. So here you can see what they wanted to hide now: we find a picture of two peaople having sexual intercourse!

Click to enlargeA pair having sex
This is slightly edited version of the scan above. 
Outline masked and contrast enhanced
Click to enlargethe same image



One of the Big Cigarette manufacturers has placed an advertising campaign in 1999 that seems to work with subliminal  messages. At the first look all you can see is a cigarette box in an ice cube. While looking at this your eyes are fixed to certain areas in the advertising above but you are not able to say what is fixing your look. While starring at this you then will receive a strong subliminal oral and sexual stimulus. You are not able to control or censor this stimulus because it is not obvious for mental recognition.
So what else would you do than buying a cigarette right way or having sex immediately? In most cases out on the streets you will decide to choose the first alternative, rather than the second one.

I have shown the upper advertising to some girl friends too. They did not have the same effect, and even when I explained them the secret patterns they were not so easily able to see it. So this advertising seems to have been composed for targeting men with a load of subliminal messages.


+Forseti's findings

Well hullo Fravia+,
I have been looking for subliminals now for some years, and their prescence in advertising has not diminished in the least from the days of Wilson Bryan Key's famous book 'Subliminal Seduction'. The use of all-digital tools in advertising post-production makes inserting subliminals into any image absurdly trivial, and the same subliminal can be used repeatedly throughout an ad campaign, as well as by multiple clients.
Here is a subliminal missed by Behemoth, though by no fault of his own, you see he was looking for sexual images, and found some of them.
I have attached the image, but it is also online: Click to enlarge
Fravia+ is puzzled

Now the big question... is a subliminal skull in an advertisement for cigarettes the proof that unconsciously people WANT to risk death when smoking? And the feminine bodies all around... why did the puppeteers choose such a symbolic cocktail?

Feminine bodies and a skull (on the "shadow" side of the iceblock!)... why? Love and death have always been a winning recipe: Despite their irreconcilable discrepancy we all have to learn to live with, and deal with, love and death. Moreover, alongside with creative work and birth, love and death are after all the most remarkable events a man encounters in his life.

Now... what have we here? Eros versus Thanatos? Venus versus Ares? Is this a 'religious' subliminal advertisement, targeting young people with mystical needs?
Maybe it is not necessary to wade into the mystics la Francis de Sales ("Ah, come Holy Spirit! To love or to die! To die and to love!"). Brr...fanatics give me the creeps... Indeed as anyone knows "love and death" are the very basement of all "christical" societies: they are so interconnected in the Passion that you cannot have the one without the other.

On the other hand, religions are just sovrastructures coded on more ancestral pushes, and in this advertisement the puppeteers are probably just playing with basic subconscious significances.

The advertisement attraction of a (subliminal) image-cocktail of EROTIC LOVE and DEATH is probably so strong BECAUSE it's effects are compound.
Psychiatric advice required... in the meantime take note that in his "Ego and the Id" Sigmund Freud described the essential bifurcation in the human psyche, and in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle", he theorized two primary drives for all living organisms: Eros (the Life Force), and Thanatos (the Death Instinct).
According to Freud, Eros and Thanatos are locked in a struggle for the appropriation of crucial libidinal energies produced in the subconscious, the source of all life.

Seems unfair enough to me that in order to make some more money our libidinal energies are now used to harness our instincts in order to transform us into hapless consumers...

On the other hand: "You wanted a free-market society? Now lie in it"

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