Go Ahead, Wreck Your Home

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.

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4 Responses to “Go Ahead, Wreck Your Home”

  1. leafless Says:

    During tough times like this, I don’t blame the government. What I do know is habitual gamblers are likely to destroy their lives with or without the ads. They just can’t help it — it’s an addiction after all.

  2. crunchy Says:

    I hate those ads…I hate a government that encourages you to really use credit…do you not use a credit card for their online gambling…..a sure fire way to spiral into debt and so on.

  3. paulmct Says:

    leafless:

    I don’t know where you’re based, but these aren’t tough times for government in Canada. They’ve been paying down the debt for at least ten years. Yes, these people will gamble and ruin their lives anyway, but the government shouldn’t be encouraging them, let alone providing the outlet.

    Crunchy:

    Exactly.

  4. C. Fraser Says:

    I don’t know about the subliminal part – sure advertisers are smart and advertising is pretty much a science, but advertisers balance this ‘smart’ with enough ‘idiot’ to make it a null proposition.

    It’s easy to see things in hindsight, but much more difficult to create something so witty. Yes subliminal advertising has been, and still is a focused pursuit, but that doesn’t mean it occurs in every case.

    On the other hand why is it legal to advertise gambling, and not smoking when one is just as destructive as the other?

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