Growing up in the 70’s, subliminal advertising was everywhere, and it was always a fun challenge to look at the modern advertising of the day and try to divine the nocturnal missions hidden therein.
“Sex” was a big seller in every way — the most famous evidence of such being the strategically placed curls in Farrah’s hair on her infamous poster. The “S” in “Sex” is found on her right shoulder, the “e” swirls in the curls above her breasts, and the “x” is found dangling on the inside of her opposite shoulder.
Young men pinned that image to their walls and found great thrills in that lightning rod smile, that hair, and those absolutely hard, and forbidden, nipples! Yes, Charlie’s Angels on TV was all about erect nipples showing through skimpy bathing suit tops and sweaters.
On today’s television, female nipples are verboten and often blurred by self-censoring series producers. All the visceral, sexual, fun has been blurred out of current media mainstream. I’m so glad we have the Universal channel on cable TV where early-morning Charlie’s Angels reruns often appear, uncensored, and still in their full-nipple fury to satisfy the immature little boy left behind in most of us.
Here’s another common 70’s-era magazine advertisement for hard liquor. Do you see the “sex” written in the lower left ice cube? It’s hard to view — but it’s there.
“Hard rocks” against “Soft Whiskey” is also pretty cold and clear and cloying evidence that there’s more being suggested here than just getting drunk.
Subliminal advertising was ubiquitous in the 70’s and 80’s, but the dawning of the new millennium brought a whole new philosophy to magazine advertising. Sure, there were still subliminal messages being sent to our viscous unconscious — but even more blatant and crass imagery can now be found in our everyday magazines. The sexy hint has become a hammer blow to the face.
In a single issue of People Magazine — the October 7, 2013 edition — I found no fewer than four examples of tasteless advertising that I would like to share with you now. I don’t read People Magazine. I happened upon the issue when a friend tossed it at me and asked me throw it away.
In the following advertisement for Maybelline lipstick, we see a petal/penis in the upper right corner dripping something sticky. That semen meme draws our eye to the center of the image and the sideways mouth that actually becomes the bright, bursting, pink lips of an open, and available, toothy vagina — all with a “creamier feel,” too, from their exclusive, “honey nectar!”
Somebody hand me a tissue!
What really puts this ad over the top is the perfect, anatomically correct, placing of the second sexual entry — a flower-petals-as-puckered-anus — right beneath the mouthy vagina. Yes, your eye is forced to unwittingly, but wantonly, fill in the taint!
Oh, and the erect lipstick on the right also suggests a double-penetration is in the marking! Maybe it’s Maybelline — or maybe it’s just crass junk being sold to us as a giggling, juvenile, eroticism.
As kismet would have it, I stumbled upon the same Maybelline ad — this one, focused on a Black meme that is more orange than the first, pink, “White” ad — and it appears in the October 21, 2013 issue of Life & Style Weekly.
Notice here how we also have the same dripping petal/penis, swollen vaginal lips, and a still-puckering anus — all ready for big lipstick penetration!
However, this Black ad is more direct, and less demure, than the White one — as our genital model is staring us right in the eye. Selling sex knows no racial boundaries!
I’m still waiting for my tissue!
Okay, back to People Magazine.
Also found in the same issue of People as the White Maybelline ad was this horror of an advertisement for a new CBS television situation comedy called — “The Millers” — appearing to star Will Arnett in a shower and Beau Bridges taking a poop on a toilet.
Is this how low our comedy senses have sunk — are you laughing yet? — as a family shares a bathroom with dad as he plunks a plopping poot? Does Beau bridges know no shame as an actor, or is he only a toy puppet manipulated for public humiliation by a television PR department?
Do the nincompoops who created, and approved, and published this ad realize the irony in Beau Bridges, with his pants down, holding a newspaper and pooping while I’m holding a magazine of Beau Bridges with his pants down, pooping while holding a newspaper and I’m not pooping, but Beau Bridges is literally taking a dump in my hands?
I want to wash my mouth out, too — like Margo Martindale — but with something a little stronger than just a toothbrush.
Continuing the advertising-as-bodily-function meme in the same People Magazine, this young woman appears to be splitting her vaginal lips as far apart as possible so she can demonstrate — to our lewd, and unintentional, lascivious eye — just how much menstrual blood she is not dripping on the floor of her ballet rehearsal space.
Is this really something we need to see so tastelessly demonstrated for us? Do we not understand how a tampon works? Do we need the poor child’s internal organs diagrammed for us? Isn’t one Tampax “Pearl” example enough without her genital spread?
The wackiest advert of all was found on the final glossy page of the same People Magazine. Here, a middling-minded woman appears to be trying not to pee with glee over her new Paperwhite Amazon Kindle. Oh, the phony smile tells us oh, so much!
Or, for the crasser among us, is trying not to wince in pain at the “perfect size” of her tiny Kindle that has stretched her imagination — and nether regions! — so much so that she’s trying to cover up the fact that such a tiny/big object can satisfy her crossed-leg, orgasmic, needs?
Filling up her –“Cute little bag” — takes on a whole new eroticized meaning in this hyper-sexualized context of using sexual repression to sell paperwhite books.
Somebody pass her the orange lipstick!
I was shocked to see these four, full-page, advertisements in a single edition of People Magazine and I long for the days when you’d look for skulls and naked bodies in ice cubes and for sex in tangled strands of hair. There was a mission in the animal, subliminal, memeing.
Today, there’s no suggestiveness necessary — everything goes, and our world culture becomes brassier — all in the covert function of regressive sexual longing exposed in public for non-subtle, mass, consumption.
Having spent my entire 28 year career in advertising, I refuse to comment. Some of these assertions are completely over the top .
It’s all in the eye to beheld.
Nothing new here under the sun of explicit, yet implied, sexuality for sale:
Those rival some of the incredibly tasteless Portuguese adverts – I will have to look some of them out.
It’s all suggestive and, yet, totally blunt.