On a warm Tuesday afternoon, I was outside enjoying the arrival of the spring season. Quickly flipping through the pages of this weeks issue of Sports Illustrated to get their predictions of the Stanley Cup, a particular advertisement caught my eye. I eventually turned back to the page that had captivated my interest and realized that it was only an advertisement for Canadian Mist, a popular brand of Canadian whiskey. I studied the page wondering why I was so intrigued to turn back. It was another classic example of subliminal messaging.
Subliminal messaging is a tool used by advertisers that works on the reader's subconscious by placing hidden elements within the advertisement. These elements often times are explicit in nature. This particular Canadian Mist advertisement pictured a horizontally tipped bottle pouring it's contents into a shot glass with two gold medals wrapped around the neck of the bottle. The advertisement read "Less Coin. More Medal.", saying that this whiskey had won a plethora of awards in its existence. The gold medals were strategically placed on the neck of the bottle to resemble a phallus.
I showed the advertisement to the group I was currently hanging out with asking them what they saw. After careful observation, they all came up with the same answer.
In our present economic time, this sort of activity is both clever and dangerous. Since subliminal advertisements work on the subconscious, the observer of this advertisement will later chose to purchase Canadian Mist because the subconscious has now placed that particular type of whiskey to the promise of sex. This will then turn profits for Canadian Mist because it's feeding on a human urge. This practice is extremely dangerous due to its psychological effects on the subconscious mind. In 1974, the FCC was made aware of this trend and deemed it to be "contrary to public interest".
The worst part about subliminal messaging in magazine advertisements: the advertisers can completely deny it. In the case of Canadian Mist, they can contest that the advertisement depicts a horizontal bottle with two gold medals on it without any underlying messages because that's exactly what is pictured.
In all honesty, going to the liquor store later that day I was some what drawn in by the bottle of Canadian Mist but, seeing as though it was Saint Patrick's Day, I grabbed the Jameson bottle instead. Something about Canadian whiskey on the day of celebration of the patron saint of Ireland didn't fit.