Ad Selection and Image Quality
The adverts have generally been selected to present on computer monitors viewing pages from the Internet. Generally speaking, the ads presented are therefore examples of the more obvious uses of secondary imagery as used in advertising. The secondary images in question can generally be perceived on screen, even at the relatively low resolution of 72 d.p.i. To make it easier to perceive the relevant embedded or questionable elements, rollover images are often used to indicate their position.
Many ads containing secondary imagery are much more subtle than these illustrated. It is, however, not possible for gif and JPEG images to adequately re-present high quality, full colour printing. At the time these pages were first constructed, the speed with which Internet connections transfer large image files militated against using full scale images. Thumbnails or scaled down versions are therefore used to initially present most ads. Development of broadband connections now make the use of larger images more acceptable. As time permits a selection of larger images, scanned at 200 d.p.i. will be listed on the Download page for those who wish to view them or make use of them in experiments. When secondary images get very close to the limits of visual perception i.e. become virtually subliminal in nature, they are not reproducible. Although some such ads are occasionally illustrated they are accompanied by a cautionary note indicating that the judgements of the author might be due to projection. In such instances, viewers are recommended to view the original ads and, ultimately, rely on experimental conclusions for confirmation of their judgements. In most instances the smaller, initial, illustrations are linked to a somewhat larger version of the relevant ad or image. However, in size and detail, these larger images are still generally smaller than the original full page or double page spread.
Anyone who wishes to observe more detailed and accurate imagery is recommended to obtain original copies of the adverts described in these pages.
More detailed information on the history and theory of manipulative advertising, 'subliminal' advertising and semi-subliminal advertising can be found by following the Main Contents List.
Origins and functions of the ads
Most of the ads illustrated on this site come from UK or US magazines or newspapers.A relatively small proportion come from other countries.
The UK and US ads are, in many cases, apparently part of ongoing campaigns ( at least until ad professionals became aware of the Subliminal World web site ). The campaigns ( as well as one-off ads ) aim either to sexualize the thoughts and beliefs associated with virtually all common product ranges or to produce and maintain anxiety where this may be commercially beneficial. Anxiety provoking ads are potentially most worrying and disturbing because of their intended effect upon viewers. These are primarily constructed by tobacco, distilling and other companies to trigger emotional responses likely to lead to excessive smoking, drinking or eating. See either the list of ads or work your way through the Menu page to find relevant examples.
The Subliminal World web site was initially constructed to simply portray ads containing secondary imagery with little regard given to the products involved. However, the disproportionate number of cigarette ads within the sample obtained by the author has led to a partial change in emphasis. The health problems and shortened life span associated with cigarette smoking, the deceit and disingenuous manner of spokespersons for the tobacco industry, the discomfort and ill-health that passive smoking inflicts on non-smokers in public places, together with other problems, not least the continued attempts by tobacco companies to encourage adolescents in both advanced and developing countries to smoke cigarettes, encouraged a more aggressive stance with regard to such ads.
Pages devoted to cigarette ads therefore aim to present additional facts about smoking, the goals of cigarette advertising and other related issues. In short they are anti-smoking tracts. This emphasis does not, however, detract from any statements regarding the use of secondary images and their manipulative intent, nor has this led to any variation in the selective standards applied to the ads. These are the same as with all other manipulative ads on this site.
The Introduction has multiple parts: click to continue
Last Revised: 3rd January, 2003