TELEVISION COMMERCIALS WITH MIXED MESSAGES

“Subliminal Advertising” is a technique by which advertisers place fleeting or hidden images in commercial content in the hopes that viewers will process them unconsciously.

I have noted at least three television ads lately in which I have noted a fleeting or hidden message which I am not sure is the message that the advertiser wanted to get across.

In one GEICO ad, another famous commercial symbol, the Pillsbury Doughboy, is walking through an airport checkpoint on his way to a “baking convention.” He is laughing uncontrollably and tells one TSA agent, “I’ll get it together” while another TSA agent pulls what looks an awful lot like a joint out of the Doughboy’s miniature backpack. Looks to me like the Doughboy is “baked” already. See

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvFul32xKCs&feature=youtu.be

In the next series of ads, AT&T seeks to promote its U-Verse service feature which allows one to play back shows from any room in the house. [A personal note here-when my building got AT&T U-Verse Internet I inquired about getting that service feature and was advised that it was not available at my location.] In one commercial, kids are participating in a birthday party by dancing in front of a television screen while a couple of older kids are “complaining” that in “our day” the entertainment at their birthday party was a “mathemagician.” See

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHQ6skWi1kw&feature=youtu.be

In another U-Verse ad one kid is bragging about U-Verse’s features while a basketball game plays on a big flat screen TV playing in an open garage to two other kids playing basketball in the driveway. The first kid explains the features of U-Verse to the two other kids, who, as the commercial closes, return to their game of hoops. See

A third commercial, the video of which was not readily available, also features two kids “complaining” that in “our day” they could not enjoy the features of U-Verse as they repair a skateboard.

What catches my eye in all of these commercials for a broadband television service is that they all convey a subliminal message to Parents that their kids could be doing something better than sitting in front of a television, whether it is learning math, playing basketball, learning to work with tools or skateboarding. It would be like having an ad for chicken start out with a wide shot of the company’s chickens stacked on top of one another in a factory farm.

The message here-watch what message you’re sending in your advertising.

About ERIC WACHSPRESS

The material on this website is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions regarding any material presented herein, we recommend that you consult an attorney. This web site and information presented herein were designed in accordance with Illinois law. Any content in conflict with the laws or ethical code of attorney conduct of any other jurisdiction is unintentional and void.

I am a Chicago attorney practicing in the areas of trademark, copyright and information technology law as well as general corporate law. Formerly a trademark examining attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, I have been in private practice since 1987 representing clients in a wide variety of industries, including the consumer products, financial services, information technology and entertainment industries. You can contact me at markscounsel@gmail.com, by phone at 773.934.5855 or by mail at 417 S. Jefferson St., #304, Chicago, IL 60607 USA

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