Subliminal messaging is when erotic imagery, symbols and words such as ‘sex’ or ‘fuck’ is placed into advertisements without hitting the audience’s conscious mind making you want to purchase the product because lets face it, sex sells. However, if the subliminal message has been discovered by the us, it is no longer as effective and can have the opposite effect all together. Wilson Bryan Key, author of ‘Subliminal Seduction’ states “Once the subliminal information becomes apparent to the conscious mind, the persuasive or manipulative potential in the data is destroyed.”
To me this idea just doesn’t make sense, if a burger is in the shape of a penis why would that make us want to eat it? If anything would’t is put you off your food? This is the same as the sexualisation of Disney. There have been many discoveries over the years of people coming across sexual images within their beloved Disney movies saying “childhood ruined” next to it. Does sex sell to kids? what is the purpose? They are so subtle it has taken us this long to spot them so what was the effect?
I am interested not in the subtle pushing of manufacturers to consumers though. I am interested in the most subtle sexual advertising I have ever seen…yes I am talking about ‘American Apparel’s’ deeply sexualised and pornographic advertisements, most of which have been banned. The main culprit in charge of these crude and pornographic images.. Terry Richardson.. surprise surprise. Richardson is known for being overly explicit and producing images that look like they have been taken in a garage of a predator. Whether the girls are underage or not (most of them are) Richardson has a particular talent for making them appear young, vulnerable and slightly endangered.
“I can’t be the only one who sees AA’s ads and thinks they look like photographs from an underage sex-slave ring. The brand purposely seeks out young-looking girls for pornographic-looking advertisement, with many of their ads being banned in the UK and USA.” In addition to hyper-sexualizing young girls, American Apparel repeatedly objectifies and commercializes all women. ‘Girls’ in the advertisements are in porn like positions showing off their ‘innocence.’ Ironically the founder of American Apparel was accused of forcing an employee to perform sexual acts, kept another as a sex slave, and is accused of several accounts of sexual harassment, but apparently his ads of half naked provocatively dressed women were meant to come across “sexually liberating” for women. We’re not buying it. To show you what I mean, here is a unisex shirt they sell placed on a woman and a man. I don’t think it needs much explaining.
There are thousands of advertisements that have been banned for silly reasons like a perfume bottle is slightly too close to someone leg making it “provocative and overly sexualised” or a woman is curled up naked on a sofa that I really don’t have a problem with. For me, the natural form of a woman is something that will always be attractive and will always sell and when done elegantly, can have a beautiful impact. My problem with ‘American Apparel is the porn star like aspect that aims to make women look submissive and weak. Some of the advertisements actually feature pornstars and you guessed it by now.. not discreetly. They openly state it showing a ‘Made in America’ brand is promoting selling your body to young girls (the demographic of their brand.) The grainy element to these images depicting women in unflattering angles with unflattering lighting positioned in pornographic images is not making me want to buy their products. As a 20 year old girl, I am apparently their key audience but from their use of poor advertising, you would think the audience is a horny teenage boy. It is no surprise they are “sitting on an everest sized debt.”