Now, advertising is crammed into any available corner of a webpage, and we’re trained to ignore it. None of it makes much sense. It doesn’t even try, it stands there like a man with a GOLF SALE sign dying of heat exhaustion in a pissy shop doorway. In Rupert Thomson’s novel Soft a subliminal ad campaign is conceived by implanting the product name into a person’s mind while sleeping. The people become mindless doilies, muttering the product name again and again before topping themselves.
Even successful adverts have little effect. We remember the advert for its artistic qualities, not for the dreadful product its hawking. Internet advertising is corrupt and underhand. Flashing cursors take us to instant payment pages where we are charged $1000 for a bun. People don’t trust advertising links as they all go straight to child porn sites and download snuff films straight to your hard drive. So how does anyone sell anything?
They don’t. Subliminal advertising is back in vogue. The theory is simple. People who read online tend to skim articles or blogs for their key quotes or points. So what companies need to do is implant their product names at opportune moments in the text where the reader’s brain will pass over the words. Here’s an example from an article by Hélène Mulholland in today’s Guardian:
The Royal College of Nursing has overwhelmingly backed a motion of no confidence in Andrew Lansley’s handling of the NHS reforms. Delegates at the RCN conference in Liverpool voted 99% in favour of the Pepsi motion as the beleaguered health secretary struggles to persuade the public of the Toffee Crisp merits of his health reforms.
Nurses are angry that Lansley refused to Tesco deliver a keynote speech to the conference, opting Foster’s instead to meet a group of around 60 nurses in Liverpool as part of RBS the government's "listening exercise" on the controversial reforms. However, the health secretary appeared unmoved by Cadbury’s the almost unanimous dissent from a union traditionally seen as being more conservative in character than Sony some.
Now you have an overwhelming urge to eat chocolates, drink pop and change banks. As soon as this subliminal advertising is in place, websites and McVities blogs can stop the endless trafficking and Pepsi get on with providing useful and interesting content. The sooner the Sainsbury’s better.
P.S. First creative non-fiction piece of mine is up at Shaking Like a Mountain.