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What's happening to the British Publishing Industry? First they develop loads of 'laddish' magazines and their female equivalents. Then they exported them to the US This was quickly followed by British imports of US versions of some of these magazines and these are sold alongside the British version. Now we also seem to have a growing tide of British versions of US magazines and US imports on the shelves of W.H.Smith and other vendors.
Have the British purchasers of magazines such as Details, Empire, Allure, Gear and Essence seemly taken a fancy to American goods and American advertising as accompaniments to their gear, booze, toiletries and half naked (and naked) members of the opposite sex and other delights? If the growth in imports were simply related to a national desire to widen ones sphere of reading and enhancements in reading standards there would be no need for concern. But there is cause for concern where the advertising in these magazines is concerned.
Most of the imported US magazines and the US versions of British magazines carry American advertising, including, in many instances, a great deal more cigarette and tobacco advertising than any British magazine. One would expect US magazines and American versions of British magazines such as Maxim to carry American ads. It would therefore seems appropriate for British versions of American magazines to carry ads for British goods and services. Not so. All of these magazines carry American cigarette adverts.
This is curious. Even if the relevant brands of cigarettes were not in great supply, giving the Brits a dose of American cigarette advertising might give them a taste for essentially American brands such as Kool, Salem and Lucky Strike. Others such as Camel and Marlboro are, of course, already widely on sale in the UK There might be some commercial justification for such ads if the aim were to develop world wide brands as a means of eliminating costly duplication of advertising and marketing costs. But there could be a less acceptable explanation underlying this plethora of magazines carrying advertising for US cigarette brands.
The growing selection of imports offers an opportunity to increase demand for American goods among British consumers. It also offers the perfect opportunity for tobacco companies to circumvent the hard won UK agreements limiting the ability of tobacco companies to advertise their unhealthy product and help them maintain their appeal to youngsters and young adults. Similar actions can also of course circumvent the forthcoming European wide ban on advertising. The actions of A.S.H. and other organizations could be set back years if there is continued proliferation of US Magazines at the same time as there is an equivalent cutback in British publishing.
For an indication of what the problem is like, take a look at the cigarette ads in imported magazines. Some examples are shown below and many others can be viewed elsewhere on this site. These cover the range from male magazines such as Detail, Gear, Maxim and Esquire to the female magazines such as Essence, Elle, etc. and others of a more general nature e.g. the movie magazines Empire and Premiere. Hardly any of the cigarette ads in these magazines would be acceptable to the Advertising Standards Authority (A.S.A.) even although the ASA already has a poor record in dealing with cigarette advertising. The A.S.A. is completely toothless where foreign advertising is concerned. All they can do is write to the appropriate national body and request changes that are unlikely to take place. These limitations allow any ad produced overseas to be widely distributed in the UK irrespective of whether or not it breaches UK standards.
If the magazines noted above make marked inroads into the UK marketplace then the advertising they are carrying can be expected to have an impact on some viewers. It is likely to be problematical enough if overseas ads can circumvent UK and European legislation (if any is ever forthcoming). It is even more disturbing if semi-subliminal advertising is influential (see the FAQs). A very large proportion of American cigarette ads contain this unethical advertising material. The Salem ad that follows is typical.
The ad incorporates a strapline drawing attention to whatever is 'Breaking out'. Conscious attention associated with the strapline is most likely to focus on the shrub sprouting from the pavement. However, there are other less obvious elements in the ad that are also 'Breaking out'.
Note the set of railings in the top right hand corner of the advert. Behind the railings are chalked letters, as illustrated in the inset on the right (actual size). In versions of this ad placed on an odd numbered page this would be one of the first aspects of the ad to be 'noticed' as the preceding page was turned.
It does not require too much imagination to note that the word scrawled behind the railings is most likely the word SEX. There is a clear S and a 'five pointed' X. A 'missing' letter E is also hinted at in the top right quadrant of the illustration and again behind the cross bar. It is 'sex' that is 'Breaking out'.
Elsewhere in the ad are further subtle renditions of similar 'letters'. There are also other features of this ad worth noting. The most obvious is, of course, the wording in the top left offers the caption: Salem: It's not what you expect. Quite true, one doesn't expect to find ones advertising monkeyed about to this extent. Other Salem ads can be found elsewhere on this site. These also contain semi-subliminal material.
Note also, that the strapline 'breaking out' is not simply relevant to this ad. It is equally relevant to another pair of adverts presented some 14 pages later in the same magazine. This, relevance is not chance, even though the pair of ads are for Camel cigarettes, not Salem. Both Salem and Camel are produced by RJReynolds-Nabisco.
The ads thus do not seem to be promoting brands, as is often claimed by tobacco companies. The combination of Salem and Camel ads are apparently promoting cigarette smoking as a rebellious activity at the same time as they are promoting sexual activity and associating the brand names with sex. The semi-subliminal sexual elements in the Salem ad were noted above. In the Camel ads cigarettes a convict breaks out of jail under the watchful eye of the jailer and on first impression, does not appear to contain any sexual elements. But if one looks closely at the tied up bed sheets used to climb down the hole it does not require much imagination to perceive that two rag doll-like figures depict a couple in the missionary position. There is a tiny male on top of a larger female. Additionally, with a further stretch of the imagination, one can imagine that the elongated (phallic) shape to which the 'female' is clinging is intended to be perceived as her partners penis. If you think this is farfetched, then read on.
For additional examples of this type of American tobacco ad and illustrations of a wider range of semi-subliminal content, from masturbating men to embedded faces and sexual messages, see the Marlboro , Kamel and Camel pages.
The Salem and Camel ads were produced in the United States and are thus not subject to the limited UK guidelines enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (A.S.A.). To see how weak the A.S.A. is with regard to subliminal and semi-subliminal advertising one need only refer to the correspondence the author had with Steve Ballinger and Manisha Yagnik of the A.S.A. The A.S.A. page also contains extracts from various A.S.A. guidelines pertinent to UK Cigarette and other advertising. Such guidelines mean nothing where Lucky Strike and other US ads are concerned.
Illustrated below are other ads for American products culled from the same monthly magazine.
This section was originally written around June, 2000. For an update from November the same year see the magazine clipping on the News page. This indicates that a 'wave' of American womens magazines carrying American cigarette ads can be added to the extensive range of magazines illustrated above.
Suck it and see.
One might note that some of the American magazines mentioned above also include ads for tobacco products other than cigarettes. There are ads for Rooster and Copenhagen chewing tobacco. One wonders if they offer free spittoons to users. Older viewers of these Web pages may remember the horrendous cases of mouth and throat cancer in young children a couple of decades ago. These were produced by so-called tobacco based sweets named Skoal Bandits. These were on sale in the UK for a relatively short period before they were withdrawn. But not before many children had become addicted to nicotine and others had developed oral and throat cancers.
Chewing tobaccos and tobacco sweets are often considered safer than smoking tobacco. They are simply dangerous in different ways - and equally addictive. They are often viewed as 'stepping stones' to the real thing. On the basis of increased in imported magazines carrying such ads, ads that would not generally not be permitted in UK and European publications, 'Are we about to see another wave of imported products that appeal to many youngsters and their risk taking tendencies?' Lets hope not.
There are other, non US, tobacco companies interested in extending the sales of addictive, flavoured, tobacco products. These are likely to be favoured by youngsters interested in experimenting but not yet willing to try smoking cigarettes. Babul flavoured chewing tobacco, for example, is advertised in magazines devoted to movies from the Indian sub-continent. The ad illustrated carries the caption "Feel the Power". This is a message about tobacco that would not normally be permitted in the UK.
Censorship of imported magazines is clearly not an answer. The solution would seem to lie in the hands of consumers generally. Take into account the companies producing, distributing and selling such products - and make your shopping decisions according.*
*In this respect. If any viewer indicates that any of the companies whose ad banners appear on the Subliminal World are involved in unethical advertising and promote cigarette sales to youngsters anywhere in the world please