Romantic Comedy: Subliminal Sexual Messages in Commercials

Using sex to sell a product isn’t always as blatant as Hardee’s (Carl’s Jr.) featuring Paris Hilton using her whole body to wash a car while eating a Thickburger as part of their “More Than a Piece of Meat” campaign. In 2005 when my sister and I shared an apartment in college, she casually made a comment one time that has changed my view on Red Lobster forever. We were watching a commercial for their “Unlimited Shrimp” special. She simply said, “They’re trying to make that shrimp look sexy.” Good call. Now, anytime I watch a Red Lobster commercial I can’t help but notice it.

For the last several years, Red Lobster’s commercials have only been showing food; no people. The food itself is used to symbolize parts of the human body and the actions of the bedroom. The music is jazzy and sophisticated, with “ooh’s” and “ah’s” in the background vocals. The camera speed is slow. The atmosphere is steamy. Words such as “indulge”, “temptation”, “sensational”, “succulent”, and “peak” are often used.

That’s what makes for good subliminal advertising: It’s so much a part of the background that it takes someone pointing it out before it can be seen by the public. Either I’m as immature as an 8th grade boy, or the clever advertisers working for Red Lobster are being so subtle that no one seems to notice.

Whereas Hardee’s uses suggestive advertising in a more pornographic style and offends people, Red Lobster is sophisticated and does it subliminally… and totally gets away with it. Because who would call them out on it and risked being labeled as having a dirty mind? Me.

The first random, most recent commercial I found:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzpNNbzMQA

A link to a website that reveals some other subliminal advertisements. Some are a bit of a stretch and some are pretty risque. Plus the guy who commentates is more crass than I am about it. But I did think it is interesting.
http://www.artistmike.com/Temp/SubliminalAd.html

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