Subliminal Advertising: The Secret Sales Pitch

Home / Book Description / Subliminal Advertising Example / Table of Contents / Back Cover / Subliminal T-shirts /
/ Reviews and Testimonials / Links / School Projects / Marketing, 8th Ed. /
Sci-Fi Subliminals / Media Apps. /
Contact Us
Music / ORDER /

© 2004 by August Bullock. From Highlights of The Secret Sales Pitch: An Overview of Subliminal Advertising. All Rights Reserved.


This advertisement contains an optical illusion that will become dramatically obvious once it is pointed out to you.

The caption says “If you got crushed in the clinch with your soft pack, try our hard pack.” The play on the words “hard” and “soft” is difficult to overlook; the ad seems to be promising virility and potency to the prospective male purchaser of Benson & Hedges.

The picture portrays a young man and woman embracing each other. If you just glanced at the expression on the man’s face for a moment or two, you would probably assume that he is smug, as though he were thinking “If you smoked Benson &Hedges you too would have beautiful women chasing after you.” If you study the expression on his face, however, you will discover that it is somewhat ambiguous. He could be smug, but he also could be a bit nervous. It is possible that the aggressive advances of the lovely young woman are making him uncomfortable.

Some people have suggested the man shares a secret with male viewers that the woman doesn’t know about. I wondered what the man’s secret could be. I hung the ad on my wall for several weeks and looked at it every day, until one morning it suddenly jumped out at me.



Look at the man’s left hand, the lower hand in the photograph. It is resting gently against the lady’s backbone.

The lady’s backbone has been carefully airbrushed to resemble an erect, male phallus. It is six and a half inches long in the scale of the photograph. It is circumcised, and the tip of it is about to enter a cylindrical curl formed by the lady’s hair.

  The longer you look at it, the more obvious it becomes. If you study the close up you will see that the man’s hand is clearly wrapped around a cylindrical object that can’t possibly be part of the woman’s anatomy.

On a conscious level the Benson & Hedges ad promises sexual excitement, but on an unconscious level it stimulates sexual anxiety. The reason for this is that anxiety is associated with maladaptive behaviors like smoking, drinking, and overeating. We all realize that people smoke more when they are nervous; therefore, if you make them nervous you induce them to smoke more. If they know you are trying to make them nervous, however, they will resent the ad and avoid the product. In order to be effective, the ad must present a dual message: one that is consciously understood and presents a socially acceptable theme, and another that resonates with powerful secret motivations the viewer remains unaware of


© 2004 by August Bullock. From Highlights of The Secret Sales Pitch: An Overview of Subliminal Advertising. All Rights Reserved.

Visit our home page to see another dramatic illusion.

Order page..

T-shirt page..