Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Subliminal Advertising on 10. Seriously.

Network 10’s coverage of the ARIA Awards (28/10/07) contained subliminal ads for several major sponsors. Their logos appeared in single frames of 1/25th of a second, hidden within the transition graphics.

The coverage was produced by Roving Enterprises, production company of impish multi-millionaire Rove McManus. They are trying to pass the buck to Network 10, but the transition graphics were integral to the ARIA coverage, appearing on the screens behind the presenters, so they’ll have a job denying complicity.

Is McManus the new Steve Visard? Same toothy grin; same ‘I’ll be your best friend’ persona; same drive for wealth accumulation.

This carefully premeditated brainwashing scheme was unequivocally unlawful and would likely have involved ‘partners in crime’ from Network 10, Roving Enterprises and the advertisers concerned: Telstra, Toyota, Olay, KFC and Chupa Chups. (The involvement of the advertisers is given away by a statement from KFC: “...this was a new technique designed and developed by the broadcaster.”)

But don’t hold your breath for any serious punitive measures from TV watchdog FreeTV. And while the blogosphere may — rightly — give the protagonists some bad press, let’s not forget the old saying: There’s no such thing as bad publicity. Numerous blog posts carrying the advertisers’ logos could even be their desired outcome — hence the colourful allegory of my caption, above-left!

The Guru is appalled by the immoral conduct shown by the broadcaster. It’s an attack on free will, the bedrock of the free thinker — you. In the words of Dr Caroline West, Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney:

Subliminal advertising is banned because it is a form of mind-control: it aims to influence us in ways that we are unaware of, and consequently that we could not choose to resist even if we wanted to.

Links: The culprits, the MO and the social consequences in The Arias: Ten’s Breach of Trust.

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Anonymous Natalia the Russian said...

Hello Guru - top post and great work - found you via the Australian Directory - I'm all for outing insidious practices but really...we do have a choice with advertising...you've just gotta wake up when you're in the shops and stop dream buying. Advertisers know people walk around in a daze of product lust. They've just outsmarted us. We aren't all helpless drones at the mercy of the big boys with the bucks.


11/06/2007 6:23 pm  
Blogger Al Cad said...

Hi Natalie,

Yes, with most advertising we have a choice — we even choose sometimes to wear logos. But the Aria coverage gave no choice. The image being flashed up lasted just one frame. It was obviously designed to be covert because there are no transition frames. The five frames above are in sequence. When watched in real time, the tiny differences in the horizontal lines on frames 1, 2, 4 and 5 translate to a fast moving animated graphic. But I wasn’t able to perceive the logo in frame 3, even once I knew it was there. Subconsciously, however, it would still have registered.

10 (in a statement to Media Watch) said that it was “neither subliminal nor near-subliminal advertising”. If there were even just two or three transition frames each side of the logo that might be a tenable argument. But nope, each time it was just a single frame lasting 1/25th of a second — full on Orwellian-style subliminal advertising!

11/07/2007 2:57 am  
Anonymous Natalia the Russian said...

Guru - yes of course you're right - I guess I'm just impervious to all that shite...that said - it is perfectly reasonable for you to pull them up on it. It's just plain sneaky.

11/14/2007 11:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an example;take the world famous Virgin logo.If you turn it slighty to the left so that where the underline and tail of the g form an X,you'll also notice the V forms a slightly hidden S and the i,r and part of the g form a broken capital E,spelling the word SEX.
So you have Sex/Virgin in one word.Very clever Mr.Branson.

2/06/2008 11:57 am  
Blogger Al Cad said...

Not buying that one, Anonymous! And here at The Guru’s Guru we believe that, compared to the other multinationals, Virgin’s one of the good guys.

2/06/2008 6:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you not buying the Virgin/Sex logo thing,you might want to take a look at this "You Tube" video.

Still not buying it?

and here's one to take a look at;

If you look at the dear's face on the Tooheys New label you will see a subliminaly imbeded SEX across its face.The E is right next to the nostril (easy enough to see)the X is the dark part that forms a cross in the inner right ear and the S is the ear on the left.So the S snd E are light and the X is dark.Take a look.

Cheers / Daz

9/10/2008 8:29 pm  
Blogger Al Cad said...

“Subliminal messages are embedded in another mediums.” I guess sometimes people don’t pay sufficient notice to conscious messages!

I’d say there are a number of factors at play in the vid. Our minds search for meaning – a phenomenon known as pareidolia – as illustrated by the face in the Martian crater. The word ‘sex’ on the 50 rupee note could have been deliberate, but was likely the artist’s private joke.

In the case of printed ads where the companies want to show an association with sex it’s hard to know why they wouldn’t just use a suggestive pic, though I don’t doubt more devious tactics are sometimes employed.

It’s the use of subliminal advertising on TV that especially concerns me. With 25 images per second it’s just so easy to hide a logo, phrase or suggestion in there. And in the case of Ten’s ARIA coverage, there seems to have been complicity between several large corporations.

Thanks for your interest, and for coming back. The Guru’s Guru is on hiatus right now, but will be back soon.

9/10/2008 11:05 pm  
Blogger tetrahedron said...

Everybody reading this may be interested to know that all forms of subliminal advertising are permitted in Australia so long as the subliminal frame occurs in an advert.

Free TV Australia created a loophole in its Code of Practice (Parts 1.8 and 1.8.4) that excludes advertising from the list of programming where subliminals are banned. As a result, advertisers can insert subliminal frames into their ads with impunity.

You can confirm this by checking out the Code at:


If you want to object to this unethical practice, the Code will be up for another public consultation next year.

Alternatively, you may want to tell Free TV what you think now:

Ph: (02) 8968 7100
Email: contact@freetv.com.au

11/19/2008 6:31 pm  
Blogger Al Cad said...

You’re quite right, tetrahedron. 1.8 should simply refer to any broadcast material, as exceptions are already covered in 1.9 (which could also do with a review, as a flaky argument was built up around the ‘artistic’ thing). It could be argued that an ad with subliminal content breached Appendix 1, section 1.2, in that it was deceptive. But given that the ACMA took 11 months to decide that the ARIA program contravened the Code, and even then couldn’t bring themselves to call it subliminal advertising, much less impose any serious punitive measures, it would be much better for the Code to be as cut and dried as possible – you could say idiot-proof!

11/20/2008 1:05 pm  

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