Ads of the Month
What is of interest in this ad is the light coloured area where the beer is pouring into the glass. This is illustrated actual size in the cut-out on the right.
If you look carefully and focus on the area on the right I am sure you will see the visage of a male figure looking towards the left. If you cannot perceive this, look at the second figure in the paragraph below where it has been enhanced by setting the face against a dark background.
Note that such figures are ambiguous and are rarely complete. This 'head' is no exception. They require interpretation on the basis of knowledge and they are 'constructed' by combining that knowledge with the cues in the ad. But, having been primed by the suggestion that there is a face in the beer, you may now perceive this face.
Your recognition requires the application of your knowledge of facial features to the ambiguous and incomplete image. If you had previously 'recognized' the head in the beer being poured then it seems as though you might have concluded that Samuel Adams clearly pours the best head in the business. Additionally, if you are appreciative of or use colloquial language, then the meaning of 'giving head' is also likely to be 'triggered' and help form interesting mental associations between Samuel Adams beer and sexual activity.
When I first met an ad featuring this young woman she was dressed in red. The ad itself was on one of the elongated posters that are displayed above the heads of passengers on the London Underground. It captured my attention because she was positioned to the left of the ad and looking in an appealing way at what appeared to be empty space on her left - the empty space was not empty but I doubt if anyone who saw the ad noticed this. For the conclusion to the dressed in red story you will have to wait. In the meantime here is an analysis of the same young model dressed in black.
It is generally acknowledged, rather facetiously, that anything longer than it is wide can be considered a phallic symbol. As such much undeserved meaning is often attributed to such shapes in adverts. In this Persil ad, however, there is a true phallic shape.
This judgement is arrived at not because the shape is clearly phallic nor penis like - for a much more true to life representation see the Lynx Phoenix ad above - but because there is supplementary evidence to indicate that the pink area of skin showing between the model's trousers and sweater is intended to be perceived in a sexual manner. The wording of the ad, ' This is why Persil colour care doesn't contain bleach' thus has an overt and a covert meaning. The overt meaning is related to washing coloured clothes. The covert meaning is related to sex. Why? Well consider the following.
Note in the full size extract on the right the positioning of the model's right hand. It is formed into roughly the same shape as her left hand. The left hand has, of course, a corner of the sweater to hold. The right hand has nothing to hold and the model would thus seem to have quite clearly been told to hold her hand in that position rather than a more natural one. In conjunction with the phallic shaped area of flesh it can be conjectured that the model has been instructed to pose with her hand in the position it would be in if it were holding an object like a penis. And detached from the rest of the ad it is pretty obvious that the area of flesh that is on view provides a pretty positive indicator of such activity.
Should we ask the makers of Persil to come clean as to their advertising tactics?
Fly with Rothmans and you could be flying high, or so this ad would seem to indicate. Closer scrutiny reveals that the 'reflection' underneath the wide bodied jet is that of Wales, the south of England, France, Spain and Italy. However, geographers might note that a large chunk has been torn out of Wales. When compared with an actual outline of the southern UK the area underneath the Rothman logo can easily be perceived as a face.
Note also that there is an object being drawn into the mouth of the Welsh 'face'. It could be a cigarette but, given the tendency for many cigarette ads to sexualize their ads whenever possible, it could also be construed as some other oral activity. Which area of interest was triggered in mind of any viewer would depend upon their predisposition's, previous experiences and the context in which they viewed the ad.
Some additional commentary on this and other flying/airport related ads can be found on the page devoted to the Gatwick Trilogy.
This ad could almost be dubbed 'The one that got away'. It was withdrawn from circulation after a number of individuals complained that it was promoting speeding. This indeed is the case, as do other Peugeot ads, with greater or lesser degrees of success. However, it is unlikely that the awareness of speeding was the only factor influencing those individuals who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority. There are two other semi-subliminal features of note that, if capable of influencing potential Peugeot 206 owners, may also have influenced those individuals who raised complaints.
It is not only speeding this ad emphasizes, it emphasizes aggressive speeding. And the ad also provides an intimation of mortality/termination.
Speeding, of course, not only challenges the system and those who enforce legislation, it challenges the notion of mortality. If one survives the risks associated with speeding it proves to the driver that they are, to some extent at least, immortal and immune to the misfortunes that beset other drivers.
Look at the right hand side of the ad first of all. Midway up the page there is what can seems simply to be a white patch on the roadway. But note that it can easily be perceived as that of a face with horns. The face is reminiscent of a cow or a bull with horns and bears a degree of similarity, due to its colouring, to a skull rather than a live animal but it could easily be interpreted by some individuals as devilish. Whether that means devil may care, devil take the hindmost or simply the road to hell will depend upon the predisposition's of the viewer. Whatever, this aspect of the ad is not simply a chance variation in the road surface as perusal of other Peugeot ads will clearly indicate.
The second feature - or rather set of features - is embedded in the waves created by the car that has dashed through the scene. Look at the image alongside (actual size) and it should not be too difficult to discern at least one rather sizeable aggressive face (there are more than one). The most prominent and aggressive 'face' is presented in profile, facing to the left. It is centred roughly three and a half centimetres in from the left margin and about the same distance up from the bottom. With sufficient 'imagination' one can perceive a considerable number of other 'faces' of varying shapes and sizes, at least one of which is large than the one identified and overlapping it.
Note that mention of imagination does not mean that the faces/bull/devil figures are simply constructed by the viewer as might be the case if one imagined images with ones eyes closed. The faces are incomplete and ambiguous. For them to be perceived requires the interpretation of the ambiguous stimuli as would be the case with any visual illusion. Viewers thus 'contribute' their knowledge of aggressive facial features in 'completing' and recognizing these faces. The more salient such knowledge or behaviour is to the individual the greater the likelihood they will 'recognize' or respond emotionally to these aspects of the ad.
Imagination is needed to perceive such ambiguous figures consciously. But there is no doubt in the authors mind that the' waves' were artistically constructed so that that they would contain the type of features typical of facial structures, in this case faces portraying aggression.
The ad was carefully constructed in an attempt to get around the restrictions on using speed as a selling point for cars. The fact that the ad was withdrawn would seem to indicate the success of the ASA's guidelines. However withdrawal was probably irrelevant as by the time the ASA considered the complaints the ads had been widely placed in magazines, etc. That aspect of the marketing campaign had probably run its course. Moreover, the ASA's 'sanction' has not prevented Peugeot from producing another ad with exactly the same type of speed/challenge components and there may be others in the pipeline. This second ad appears on the French Connection page. It appears to be more innocuous but the message is primarily the same as the ad discussed above..
I wonder how this second ad will fare should any member of the public raise a complaint.
This is one of a series of ads for Nescafe. Each is somewhat suggestive - but not about drinking coffee.
This ad encourages the viewer to ENJOY BEFORE DRINKING. Enjoy what?
Perhaps the sensuous S shaped curl in the centre of the ad is intended to be perceived as a pointer towards the genital area?
Look at another in the same series and you will get the message. This set of Nescafe ads is not simply about drinking coffee but they could not state that in plain English, it would be unacceptable.
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Last Revised: 20th September, 2001