Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key

Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key
This is one of the most important books ever published! And of course that means nothing in these days when the jacket of every penny dreadful is tattooed with blurbs that would make the author’s mother blush. But here it is true; if between the covers there was nothing but the introduction by Marshall McLuhan — if all the other pages were blank — this would still be something that everyone should read.
(BTW, McLuhan’s “pattern recognition” IBM aphorism went on to be echoed by Gibson.)

As now all the world’s a stage for Marketing — a president one day playing pilot and the next Western sheriff, hocus-pocus WMDs, the peace candidate president that follows rendering the Mediterranean Mare NATO, global warming the apocalypse now and we’re told to focus on gay marriage — the only stray glimmer of hope is in raising the subliminal out of the unconscious. That’s what Subliminal Seduction by Wilson Bryan Key can do for you.

Steve Madden NYC Meat Market billboard

Steve Madden NYC Meat Market billboard on Little West 12th

This Steve Madden billboard is installed on Little West 12th Street, off of 9th Avenue.

Back in 1967, the Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick sang of pills that make you larger. How very long ago that was becomes obvious by glancing at this Steve Madden billboard. The contemporary Alice of the city streets isn’t interested in expanding consciousness. What she wants to grow are her breasts, her head, and her feet — with the focus on the feet.

This Steve Madden Big Head Girl ad is using a different concept than the ones from the ’90s. Those images portrayed adult women with the Big Head feature expressing interaction. When speaking with someone — or even just gazing at a person with the hope of conversation — one looks at the face. Then, the head nearly fills your field of vision with the rest of the body foreshortened. The new graphic is a surreal representation of a child.

The billboard shows a pre-adolescent girl trying on her mother’s hat and shoes. Magically, though there’s nothing in the picture to lead us to think that her brain is brimming with ideas, the auburn haired head has blown up like a balloon to fill the hat. Similarly, the feet — erect and stiff with straps — have swollen to fill the shoes. With the ramped-up footwear the little lady of 2011 is a big girl now.

It’s sad to think that any adult woman is haunted by her body image as a twelve-year-old, like a physical version of the Flowers for Algernon artificial genius Charlie tortured by the presence of himself as a challenged child. And isn’t this the great horrible doubt that torments the American Faith’s belief in the After? That all those Befores alone by the telephone in the nation’s night will send in their coupons only never to be Charles Atlas or even the Life of the Party.

As the New York City Meatpacking District’s streets are paved with rough cobble stones, there’s no better place to view the injury that women inflict on themselves by wearing high-heeled pedal monstrosities. Barely able to keep from falling while trying to cross the uneven streets, women so ball and chained often need to be physically supported by their male companions. The contrast between the marketing’s illusory promise of somehow morphing into a strong woman — miraculously becoming like William Gibson’s female enforcer Sally Shears, who wore heavy boots for a “job” in Mona Lisa Overdrive — and the insulting reality of fashionable foot binding disguised as self-improvement is stark. This is similar to cigarette advertising’s Marlboro Man false offer of rugged individualism when tobacco’s truth is dependency and infirmity, a complete reversal of fact, a Big Lie.

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For some time, the lights over this sign did not turn on at night, and so the ad was only visible during the day. As the winter daylight hours are short and the area’s night life is active, the lack of nocturnal visibility was not easy to understand. Did the advertiser forget to pay the electric bill? Did a squirrel chew through the wire? Was it just a long time before anyone ever checked to see if the lights were working? This evening (01/07/11), just one light out of 3 is providing illumination.

The Svedka Vodka female robot ads

Svedka vodka female robot billboard

As if spotting someone in the crowd, the mechanical women’s eyes flash interest.

The Svedka Vodka female robot ads are frequently seen in open – and not so open – air advertising galleries: billboards, buses, bus stop shelters, phone booths, and subway stations.

A common technique of liquor advertising is Pavlovian conditioning with the use of images of scantily-clad women as the primary stimulus. In close proximity to the affable young lady will be a picture of a bottle of an alcoholic beverage. In the same way that attention is drawn to the ad, the excitement will then link to the brand. Through this training, the consumer prefers a certain product.

Competition presents an immediate complication. How do you get men to look at your bikini girl poster in a public space filled with images of similar free spirits? One way that advertisers attempt to make the images increasingly interesting is by decreasing the clothing. The Cabana Cachaça magazine ad model’s high heels and a tan line demonstrate that there is a limit to this sequence. And in the interest of the safety of pedestrians – if not the public morals laws – outdoor advertisers must stop the display of skin at some point well before this reductio ad somethingorother is reached. Standing head and shoulders (and with nearly every other part of their gleaming anatomy) over all rivals, the Svedka bot girls are the solution to this problem. Since stainless steel women don’t wear clothes, nobody will be shocked by any amount of exposed sheet metal – but the idea comes through all the same.

There are other advantages, too. No one seems to mind a metal Ms. being treated as a sex object. After all, a robot is an object. And with metallic grey skin (plus just a hint of rouge or a blush signaling attraction) basically the same color as the Svedka bottle, the fembot is not just associated with the product. The feminine machine essentially is the goddess or spirit of the brand, dea ex machina.

I do see a drawback to the pinup girl liquor ads. Much marketing is based on either faulty polls or the faulty interpretation of polls. As their surveys show men making the overwhelming majority of alcoholic beverage purchases, the companies use “cheesecake” ads. The error is in failing to realize that men do what women tell them to do. If a wife or girlfriend sends a man to the liquor store to fetch a bottle of rum, gin, scotch, or wine, no landscape full of ruby-lipped robots will convince him to do anything else. And if is to be vodka and orange, how can a significant other be expected to invite Svedka?

Svedka Vodka fembot billboard

A Svedka Vodka fembot billboard photographed at night

Svedka Vodka fembot ad on a phone booth

Though the breasts are partially hidden by the text and the derriere
stops at the margin, the unconscious will fill in the blanks.