Do government agencies use subliminal advertising techniques? For months now, the Lottery Corporation has been running commercials to promote their ‘play on-line’ service. In other words, they’re promoting on-line gambling.
The commercials are ostensibly humorous. One features a middle aged suburban man teeing up in his living room and driving a golf ball through the sliding glass patio door, shattering it. Another has a woman rolling her bowling ball down a wood-floored corridor, which then crashes into the wall at the end and damages it. Both end with the corporation’s web address and a voice-over telling you to “Play at home”.
The images in the ads seem to go beyond humour. They appear to appeal to the habitual gamblers’ deep, dark desire to destroy their lives/homes. It strikes me as unethical and very hypocritical, given that subliminal advertising is supposed to be illegal. I guess the government will look the other way when they are benefiting from the revenue generated.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, subliminal advertising refers to using techniques or tactics in advertising that suggest something subconsciously. There is always a grey area, of course, because much of an ad’s work is to create an image to appeal to a target market. This is usually not achieved via directly spoken or written information.
A famous example of subliminal advertising is the image of popcorn or drinks on a single frame of film inserted into a movie in a theatre. The audience doesn’t consciously notice it, but they suddenly feel the urge to buy some popcorn or a soft drink. This would have been commonly done back in the days when there was an intermission.
These lottery ads remind me of the screaming faces airbrushed into ice cubes in liquor ads. Those ads tapped into the fears and insecurities that the alcoholic feels. Although the lottery ads don’t have hidden images, there does seem to be a subconscious message, appealing to an addict’s self-destructive tendencies.
This gives an indication of how much government depends on lottery revenues and begs the question, which is a higher priority for them – revenue or society? Should government prey on its own people to generate revenue?
Just a thought.