I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second.
– Steven Wright

Discussing advertising with a group of minimalists, we moved to the topic of brand marketing. Many products become only incrementally better with each iteration, so it is necessary to sell the “feeling” of a product rather than the benefits of the product itself.

I used an example of a car ad I saw recently at a movie theatre. In the ad, a father watches his daughter compete in a race and win. In the last second of the ad they walk over to the car, which has not been seen in the commercial until this moment.

I think they are selling a mix of family, feminism, fatherhood, competition, and so on. The car itself is unimportant, those feelings connected to the car are the ad.

What is fascinating to me is that when telling the story, I said “I didn’t absorb what kind of car it was. Let’s say it was an Audi.”

“It was an Audi,” said one of the group.

Which stopped me in my tracks. Not only did I not think I had internalized the type of car, I would not be able to pick an Audi out in a line up. I have no interest in cars and recognise very few on sight.

I’ve worked in marketing for about 10 years and thought myself quite savvy when it comes to filtering these messages.

And yet, there it was. My subconscious knew exactly what they were selling.

What did you absorb today that you didn’t even notice?