Posts Tagged ‘advertizing’

Go Ahead, Wreck Your Home

March 14, 2008

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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A Valentine’s Day Reminder – Already

January 18, 2008

There it was, on my monitor.  A pretty picture of red, pink, and white hearts on my ISP’s home page, accompanied by a headline link telling me to “Plan early” for Valentine’s Day.  And Valentine’s Day was still four weeks away.

The Christmas season has barely gone.  It was not so long ago that there were pine needles on the floor of common areas in my building.  The garbage and recycling bins are still overflowing with the detritus of collective merriment.  And, now, we are being called upon to start planning to spend again.

We seem to move from one commercial holiday season to the next, each one telling us to spend, spend, spend.  Our calendar is marked by these shopping points.  We pace our year around them.  Our society is geared towards them.  They are the individual legs of our annual migration.  The ads for the seasonal sales are signposts counting down the miles to the next rest stop.  Retail rules.

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know I’m not one to remind people of the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas.  You know – the story of an alleged baby born in a stable in Bethlehem, the city of David, when his parents were supposedly going to the city of their birth for a census there is no record of, conveniently matching the prophecy of the first testament.  But, stories of the increasing commercialization of Christmas are not exaggerated.  The shopping season starts much earlier than it used to.

The same is now true for Valentine’s Day and all the other events or holidays.  No sooner does one holiday or long weekend pass than we are reminded of the next.  I can’t recall a four week runup to the day of romance in the past – ever.  It will be followed by the Easter season, followed by the Victoria Day/Memorial Day long weekend, Canada Day/Independence Day, the August Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas again.  All perfect opportunities to shop.  The retailers’ calendar has become our calendar.  Welcome to the consumer society!

You may not even realize how deeply entrenched this is, but, the fact is, many people can only find time to shop on these long weekends.  They’re too busy in their daily lives for anything but daily necessities like grocery shopping.  If they do have time to shop in between, they probably can’t afford to.  If you can afford to and have the time – congratulations, you’ve made it!