Marketer Defends Ad That Was Banned by NBC — and an Old Advertising Controversy Is Revived

Jan 5, 2017  •  Post A Comment

A conflict between NBC and a company that wants to advertise on the network’s Golden Globes broadcast is stoking the long-dormant issue of subliminal advertising.

The AP reports that the issue came back to life after NBC rejected an ad from throat lozenge maker Pine Bros., which made headlines last year when it gave an endorsement deal to controversial Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte for its Softish Throat Drops.

The latest skirmish does not involve Lochte, but focuses instead on a spot that the company says is a parody of subliminal messaging.

“The California-based company’s 30-second spot features a pair of marionettes bouncing to a backbeat and the refrain, ‘It went like this.’ There are some 10 flashes of largely indecipherable images sprinkled throughout,” the AP reports. “A screen grab of one reveals a cheesy-looking alien face and the words, ‘You Are About to Lose Control of Your Human Brain. Do Not Resist.'”

In a statement released by Pine Bros., company CEO Rider McDowell says: “This is clearly a parody of a subliminal ad, and the audience is in on the joke. It’s almost unbelievable to me that the network that produces ‘Saturday Night Live’ wouldn’t understand satire.”

The company also made a more formal request that NBC reconsider, sending a letter to the network through an attorney saying: “The only way the ad could be considered ‘subliminal advertising’ is if the viewer actually believed that space aliens from a non-existent planet had taken over the television and their brains and were coercing them to buy Pine Bros. Throat Drops.”

NBC wasn’t commenting for the story, but the report notes: “NBC was unmoved, according to Pine Bros. The company provided a letter it identified as from the network and saying that ‘subliminal perception techniques are not allowed when the content includes a sales pitch.'”

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