Stealth ads

I love the idea of stealth advertising campaigns – the kind that manage to reach their target audience without anybody else knowing quite what is going on. To me the classic was the 1950’s era ad for Smirnoff vodka: “It leaves your breathless”.

This ad was a clever shout-out to all those repressed post-war office drones who kept a bottle of something alcoholic hidden away in a bottom desk drawer. The tag line was a reminder to these potential customers that vodka does not leave much of a tell-tale odor on your breath. Nobody else really thought about these things, so the ad remained safely “unreadable” by the unsuspecting general population.

I’ve been told by Brazilian friends that the virile and good looking cowboy depicted in Marlboro ads down there (at least until recently, they still allowed smoking ads on Brazilian TV) is actually a gay icon. It seems a lot of cigarettes in Brazil are bought by gay men. It’s a message that speaks loud and clear to its intended audience, without ever quite reaching the level of awareness on the part of others.

In this spirit, I’ve long felt that if I were to open a shop of memorabilia for small, edgy, internationally produced art films, I should like to call it “Whim Vendors”. People in the know would be drawn to my shop like backward-speaking dwarves to a David Lynch movie.

And nobody else would even know why.

2 thoughts on “Stealth ads”

  1. That is SO weird! I was just catching up with a week’s worth of posts (in chronological order) and was about to respond to the side conversation about etymology in Metablog making a lame joke about how “Vim crashed the party…” could refer to the noted German director Vim Venders. Then I decided to read the newer posts first, and there was your joke about the same guy.

    In political parlance the sort of thing you are talking about is called a “dog whistle” issue/message/ad — only a certain subpopulation hears it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *