Josh Coppersmith Heaven | 02.04.2010 23:23
Last year, upon returning from several months in the easy-going reality of West Africa, I became intrigued by the complexity and struggle of British city life. To survive in London is tough. Everywhere people and signs are throwing messages at you, telling you to buy things, forcing you to pay painful amounts for the necessities of life – such as water and travel – whilst all around, double decker red metal objects are trying to kill you. At the best of times, there’s a huge amount to deal with.
And all the time in the metropolis, while our necessities are kept at arms length, we are force-fed images, references, and suggestions that point to our greatest desire – sex. Advertising exploits sex. Corporations monopolise on sex. Sometimes they do it obviously, sometimes explicitly, but often, subtly. While I was digging round on this website, I started learning about the the subliminal use of the word ’sex’ in design. It is no urban legend. It is a technique that is studied in universities and applied on packaging and billboards. It appears quite a lot on soft-drink labels, particularly by the Coca-Cola company (surprise surprise, the most recognised brand in the world). So I stepped out into London and went hunting. I inspected mobile phone logos, magazine adverts, sweet packaging. Nothing. Then I opened a newspaper and saw the new conservative logo, in full spread.
Oh dear, oh dear. Do you see it? in the top left hand corner, reading down, left to right?
It needs a bit of a trained eye, but that’s not to say you don’t pick it up subconsciously.
The S sitting on top of an X. The classic SX. A tried and tested subliminal message.
But that is not all.
Not content with just the ‘SX’ technique, The Conservative Party have opted to spell it out for us, and have the whole word scribbled in their tree. This has been done many times before. I've attached some examples;
Ok, so people who sell us sugary crap use subliminal messaging. We can take that. But a political party that might get in at the next election? Doesn’t seem believeable, does it? Lets go back to the Conservative Logo again.
Question; Why such scribbly drawing, Mr. Cameron? Answer; All the better to hide messages to influence you with, my dear.
I can’t decide whether this makes him a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or vice versa.
The design was instantly brought down as ‘childish’ and ‘messy’ when it first came out. It was also declared a shameless greenwash. Ok, so its supposed look like a crative, free-hand, flowing design. But, if this is the case, would anyone care to explain why those lines that cross below the top left S are so remarkably straight. Anyone? Doesn’t look so much like a random scribble any more, does it?
Far from it. The Conservative Party put a lot of money into this logo, and it was adopted in the year two thousand and sex. Sorry, I meant six. They spent somewhere in the region of £40,000 – and for £40,000 pounds, there are no accidents. Everything is planned, screened, researched, checked, and double checked. Well, the company must have spent their time doing something because, as with the Glasgow Commonwealth Games controversy, they didn’t spend much on coming up with the idea
The green tree design (as opposed to the incredibly different orange tree) came about under the new brand manager, the young, bright, Anna Maren-Ashford. Her previous job was with Virgin Mobile, a company that always has and always will use sex to sell things that should have nothing to do with sex. She commissioned the London based design group Perfect Day to do the design. I have tried to contact them, but so far, they haven’t replied.
For about a year, I’ve been sure about this subliminal message, but not certain. A few weeks ago, I was on a train (my favourite place for meeting people from all tracks of life) and got talking to a woman who was from a well-known packaging design firm in the South-West, and she confirmed my belief – that the logo had intentional subliminal messages worked into it. She knows, because she has used subliminal messages in her designs before. More to the point, people in the packaging design industry have talked about the conservative logo for years. We don’t know about it, because they communicate in a closed world – people who work for these firms sign a confidentiality statement, and they know that if ever they become a whistleblower, they will never get a job in the packaging design industry again. This is why she wished to remain anonymous.
So, ‘what’s the big deal’, you may think? Firstly, and most importantly, manipulation. A party that deliberately seeks to get in power through such base tactics should be brought to light. Secondly, it is illegal, as ruled by the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority), who interestingly enough, have power over everything in the UK except political advertising. Thirdly, and most worryingly, it is effective. Just ask Derren Brown. There is scientific evidence for it. And this logo that The Conservative Party developed would have gone through tests within research groups, and people would have been shown a variety of logos, some with the subliminal message, some without. The one with the subliminal message would have been chosen because there were enough people who were significantly drawn to it over the others. It is these small differences that can win or lose elections.
We can’t let the most deceitful, smarmiest party to be the one that governs us (I should also mention they are confusing and contradictory – I mean, they call themselves the Conservatives, yet their slogan is ‘vote for change’. Conservatism. Change. Anyone see the irony?). And while I’m at it, I must say that Labour just sits in its chair and nags, nags, nags, and bores, bores, bores. Yes, we need a party that is energetic, but more importantly, reliable, transparent, and founded on good policies. But I don’t even have to tell you this. To find out, in a neutral way, who you really want to vote for, check out the website where you can vote for policies, not personalities. Just search for 'vote for policies'. You don’t even have to vote for logo’s either. Just plain, simple truth. ‘In politics?!’, I hear you cry? You may be surprised. The world is changing, after all. We’ve just got to make sure we end up with a world that is clearer and more honest, and not the reverse.
(to see the article with the pictures in the right places, please go to www.penchanteur.wordpress.com/the-consexative-party)
Josh Coppersmith Heaven