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Innuendo & Association : Pulp & Fiber Brands Use Suggestion and Innuendo to Connect To Consumers

Innuendo & Association

Sometimes, the absence of something is mightier than its presence. Suggestion, as Svengali would tell us, can be a powerful thing.

If you have a television, you’re probably aware that broadcast standards for commercials don’t allow for any explicit sex, or the utterance of George Carlin’s seven dirty words. I can’t list those words, as this is a family blog, but feel free to look them up. On the flip-side, innuendo is fair game, and ad campaigns take advantage of that on the regular.

Why? Because as the viewer is forced to use their imagination, they are subconsciously connecting with the brand, and making a direct association in their mind. Sound like mumbo-jumbo? Have a look at some of these suggestive ads, and then tell us what you think.

1. Sex

We all know that sex sells. But what about the absence of sex? This ad features a child opening his mother’s bedroom door, only to find something very disturbing within. The child is left horrified and shocked, but what did he see? It could have been his mother engaging in ungodly acts with the father, or simply changing her clothes, or maybe just dancing to Michael Bublé  – but the mind immediately thinks of the former. Why? Because we’re all sick, twisted perverts! Either way, the suggestion is engaging and hilarious, and it takes a clever route around the rules, leaving the viewer to decide.


2. Swears

Next on the docket is a less recent, but always classic, commercial from Knorr, the normally normal German food brand that makes everything from dried soup to, well, frozen foods:

With the simple addition of a bleep censor, Knorr creates the illusion of the use of a “bad word”. Though cursing is not allowed during commercials, it turns out they were not swearing at all! They got us! But the absence of hearing the actual word keeps us from changing the channel. “Holy $*@%, they’re swearing in this commercial, dude!”


3. Nudity

There a few things you’ll never see on television. At least not on unscrambled television. Parts of the human anatomy that are strictly forbidden. Networks will not be airing any bare ta-ta’s, hoo-hoo’s, or pee-pee’s in a primetime television ad slot.

However, in this ad, two men discuss how bigger truly is better. And, it should be noted that the discussion takes place while both men straddle urinals in a public washroom. While the viewer never actually see’s the appendage, their minds can surely wander, leading men to grow green with envy, and women to turn flush with lust. The catch? They’re not talking about their… pee-pee’s.


If you read the words ‘don’t think of a black cat’, what do you think of? If only at a subconscious level, you probably thought of a black cat. So if advertisers keep the curtain drawn, because you aren’t actually allowed to see what’s behind it, odds are, your mind’s eye is already looking. Why? Curiosity!

But be careful. Curiosity is a precarious thing. After all, you know what it did to the black cat that you’re not thinking about right now.

What do you think of innuendo in advertising? Is it effective? Chime in with a comment below!

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