Sharpie Advertisement’s Subliminal Message: ‘Stop Protesting’

In this youth-targeted television spot celebrating “self expression” and “putting it out there”, teens make their voices heard by creating art, decorating and personalizing their skateboards and guitars. But the most intriguing moment is the quick cut midway through showing kids demonstrating and waving a colorful banner (created with their new Sharpie markers) which reads, “Stop Protesting!”

Is it just a throwaway gag from an irreverent commercial? Or a perfect example of how corporations attempt to de-claw youthful unrest by channeling it into consumerism?

86 Comments on "Sharpie Advertisement’s Subliminal Message: ‘Stop Protesting’"

  1. Not exactly subliminal.  And definitely not just a throwaway gag.

  2. Not exactly subliminal.  And definitely not just a throwaway gag.

  3. Anonymous | Nov 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm |

    It’s not a subliminal message if you can see it plain as day in the commercial.

  4. It’s not a subliminal message if you can see it plain as day in the commercial.

  5. Anonymous | Nov 2, 2011 at 4:52 pm |

    Show your commitment to self expression by protesting protest? Wow, WTF?
    The folks at Sharpie are sniffing to much of those indelible-ink fumes.  

    “Put me in coach” Subvert your will and self worth to homophobic, psuedo-macho, beer drinking slugs and don’t ever protest. Protesting is, after all, for sissies…..

    Make a sign and tell your “friends”…….

  6. GoodDoktorBad | Nov 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm |

    Show your commitment to self expression by protesting protest? Wow, WTF?
    The folks at Sharpie are sniffing to much of those indelible-ink fumes.  

    “Put me in coach” Subvert your will and self worth to homophobic, psuedo-macho, beer drinking slugs and don’t ever protest. Protesting is, after all, for sissies…..

    Make a sign and tell your “friends”…….

    • Dude…we both know that anyone in an ad firm…is only ‘in-touch’ with things like how to manipulate emotions to sell products. I’m sure it seemed funny to the guys at the coffee well…but the truth is that it makes Sharpie look like buffoons…and it isn’t a shocker…the corporate suit brigade drew their line in the sand regarding class warfare long ago…and that side…isn’t ours.

  7. DeepCough | Nov 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm |

    Subliminal? You can see the poster RIGHT THERE at 0:11.

  8. DeepCough | Nov 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    Subliminal? You can see the poster RIGHT THERE at 0:11.

    • If ya want to get technical, subliminal means that 50% or more dont see it. Now it was pretty blatant, but we were looking for it ( from the title of the article), also TV zombies love getting engrossed in their happy-go-lucky music in the background that they don’t ever think to read. (reading is for books you see)

  9. I wonder if it was thrown in because of the Occupy Wall Street stuff?

    I wonder if they got some $$$ from the banks? Or if they’re just being corporatista swine?

    But definitely not subliminal, nor throwaway. Two seconds, two shots is intentional.

  10. I wonder if it was thrown in because of the Occupy Wall Street stuff?

    I wonder if they got some $$$ from the banks? Or if they’re just being corporatista swine?

    But definitely not subliminal, nor throwaway. Two seconds, two shots is intentional.

  11. It’s posts like this that make me thankful this site is out here, rousing folks’ attention and getting them thinking about what’s going on in the world of marketing.

    It’s also posts like this that make me realize that there’s something beyond pretending we’re hopelessly bound to fulfilling advertisers’ desires.

    To suggest that a less-than-one-second shot of a sign reading ‘Stop Protesting’ (a meta-protest, if you will) will make an impact–even an insignificant one–suggests there are root causes at play here that deserve more attention than just Bill Hicks-ing the ‘evil marketers’.  Either that, or there’s no subliminal intention whatsoever, and this site has become little more than a reminder of a place along the conscious continuum where it’s useful to remind oneself and one’s allies that people want to influence your decisionmaking (DUH)

  12. It’s posts like this that make me thankful this site is out here, rousing folks’ attention and getting them thinking about what’s going on in the world of marketing.

    It’s also posts like this that make me realize that there’s something beyond pretending we’re hopelessly bound to fulfilling advertisers’ desires.

    To suggest that a less-than-one-second shot of a sign reading ‘Stop Protesting’ (a meta-protest, if you will) will make an impact–even an insignificant one–suggests there are root causes at play here that deserve more attention than just Bill Hicks-ing the ‘evil marketers’.  Either that, or there’s no subliminal intention whatsoever, and this site has become little more than a reminder of a place along the conscious continuum where it’s useful to remind oneself and one’s allies that people want to influence your decisionmaking (DUH)

  13. Sharpie is owned by Newell Rubbermaid.. Who also owns dozens of other companies. Many of the companies acquired are simply closed up and sent to China. Much like its purchase of the American Tool CO an 80 year old American company, now Irwin Industrial. Rubbermaid once relied on WalMart to solely sell its products.  This company is the classic example of whats wrong with business in America today.

     “an attempt to de-claw youthful unrest by channeling it into consumerism?”
    Just the tip of the sharpie(cough)iceberg.

  14. Sharpie is owned by Newell Rubbermaid.. Who also owns dozens of other companies. Many of the companies acquired are simply closed up and sent to China. Much like its purchase of the American Tool CO an 80 year old American company, now Irwin Industrial. Rubbermaid once relied on WalMart to solely sell its products.  This company is the classic example of whats wrong with business in America today.

     “an attempt to de-claw youthful unrest by channeling it into consumerism?”
    Just the tip of the sharpie(cough)iceberg.

  15. I think the more important words were “We’re not there yet”. Who is We, and what/where is there?

  16. I think the more important words were “We’re not there yet”. Who is We, and what/where is there?

    • Anarchy Pony | Nov 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

      An excellent question to bring up whenever someone talks about “progress”.

  17. If ya want to get technical, subliminal means that 50% or more dont see it. Now it was pretty blatant, but we were looking for it ( from the title of the article), also TV zombies love getting engrossed in their happy-go-lucky music in the background that they don’t ever think to read. (reading is for books you see)

  18. justagirl | Nov 2, 2011 at 7:25 pm |

    they’re.. protesting protesters?  brilliant!!  😀

  19. justagirl | Nov 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    they’re.. protesting protesters?  brilliant!!  😀

  20. justagirl | Nov 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    hey hey!  ho ho!  😀

  21. Anti-Citizen1 | Nov 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    An excellent question to bring up whenever someone talks about “progress”.

  22. Anti-Citizen1 | Nov 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm |

    You can just see a bunch of jackass marketing execs sitting around a table and saying exactly that.

  23. justagirl | Nov 2, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

    i see a lot more than that poopie pants.  🙂

  24.  Don’t be under any illusion and Wake Up, this is subliminal – the only reason most people will notice it is because it has been pointed it out to them.   For most of the rest of us who are just zoning out for a while in front of the television, especially during ad breaks (as we take our conscious attention off the television), we won’t consciously notice this message, but the subconscious will…
    Oxford Dictionary Definition: subliminal  n adjective Psychology (of a stimulus or mental process) perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it. 
    Also they spend bucket loads on money on adverts: nothing in an advert is there by accident, it is all there to influence you to consume their products.  Ask yourself what message a large company would want to give off, to get you protesting against the capitalist greed on which their business is based, or to conform and consume?  

    Finally it reminds me of Carpenter’s ’88 film: They Live – If you haven’t seen it, watch it.

  25.  Don’t be under any illusion and Wake Up, this is subliminal – the only reason most people will notice it is because it has been pointed it out to them.   For most of the rest of us who are just zoning out for a while in front of the television, especially during ad breaks (as we take our conscious attention off the television), we won’t consciously notice this message, but the subconscious will…
    Oxford Dictionary Definition: subliminal  n adjective Psychology (of a stimulus or mental process) perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it. 
    Also they spend bucket loads on money on adverts: nothing in an advert is there by accident, it is all there to influence you to consume their products.  Ask yourself what message a large company would want to give off, to get you protesting against the capitalist greed on which their business is based, or to conform and consume?  

    Finally it reminds me of Carpenter’s ’88 film: They Live – If you haven’t seen it, watch it.

    • I think most of us here have our “glasses” 🙂

      • I agree – it is just the first comments I saw on this video (Andrew, SF2K01, DeepCough) are all about it not being subliminal hence my tirade…

    • Anarchy Pony | Nov 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

      Roddy Piper & Keith David ran out of bubble gum. That just leaves the alternative.

    • Word Eater | Nov 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm |

      That’s why I never watch live TV.  DVR makes commercial skipping super easy.  I’ll watch a show an hour later than everyone else if I have to just to avoid commercials.

  26. I think most of us here have our “glasses” 🙂

  27. I agree – it is just the first comments I saw on this video (Andrew, SF2K01, DeepCough) are all about it not being subliminal hence my tirade…

  28. Anti-Citizen1 | Nov 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    Who has poopie pants?

  29. Anti-Citizen1 | Nov 2, 2011 at 9:00 pm |

    Roddy Piper & Keith David ran out of bubble gum. That just leaves the alternative.

  30. Word Eater | Nov 2, 2011 at 10:34 pm |

    That’s why I never watch live TV.  DVR makes commercial skipping super easy.  I’ll watch a show an hour later than everyone else if I have to just to avoid commercials.

  31. Word Eater | Nov 2, 2011 at 10:34 pm |

    That’s why I never watch live TV.  DVR makes commercial skipping super easy.  I’ll watch a show an hour later than everyone else if I have to just to avoid commercials.

  32. Way to insult your market. Do you know how many sharpies I’ve seen at our local occupation? Signs require markers, you know?

  33. Way to insult your market. Do you know how many sharpies I’ve seen at our local occupation? Signs require markers, you know?

    • Jin The Ninja | Nov 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm |

      And Sharpies are the ONLY brand available? I see lots of small companies making great art markers. some are even union MADE.

      dude, drop corporate affiliation altogether.

  34. upload date way before occupy wall street  *debunked

  35. upload date way before occupy wall street  *debunked

    • Yeah, `cause like, OWS is the first protest EVAR, and was mentioned in the introduction..

    • blacklistednews | Nov 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm |

      1. Might have been a general message for a global audience. I seem to remember people doing that back in teh 60’s LOL. Rebunked 🙂

  36. Yeah, `cause like, OWS is the first protest EVAR, and was mentioned in the introduction..

  37. Seamus Dubh | Nov 3, 2011 at 12:01 am |

    If this isn’t an example of the script the OWS and media are following (too a tee) I don’t know what is.

  38. Girlindaytona | Nov 3, 2011 at 1:07 am |

    Sorry, Sharpie. My next signs won’t be made using Sharpies!

  39. Girlindaytona | Nov 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm |

    Sorry, Sharpie. My next signs won’t be made using Sharpies!

  40. akbarlitting | Nov 3, 2011 at 1:35 am |

    they show the protesters and the sign at the exact moment the narrator says ‘No Purpose’…that is aggressive…screw sharpies…

  41. akbarlitting | Nov 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm |

    they show the protesters and the sign at the exact moment the narrator says ‘No Purpose’…that is aggressive…screw sharpies…

  42. justagirl | Nov 3, 2011 at 2:16 am |

    i was in character.  sorry, i don’t actually think you have poopie pants.  thanks for your concern. 

  43. Anonymous | Nov 3, 2011 at 2:17 am |

    1. Might have been a general message for a global audience. I seem to remember people doing that back in teh 60’s LOL. Rebunked 🙂

  44. Anti-Citizen1 | Nov 3, 2011 at 3:37 am |

    ‘s’alright.

  45. Anti-Citizen1 | Nov 3, 2011 at 3:37 am |

    ‘s’alright.

  46. Rickgallegos | Nov 3, 2011 at 3:50 am |

    Dirty Bastards!

  47. Rickgallegos | Nov 3, 2011 at 3:50 am |

    Dirty Bastards!

  48. Rickgallegos | Nov 2, 2011 at 11:50 pm |

    Dirty Bastards!

  49. reminds me of raisin cakes. When alchool was illegal wineries started selling cakes of compressed raisins for “making grape juice”. On the package it a warning about what conditions to avoid at all cost, which really were instructions for how to make wine out of the cakes. It’s not like they can make an ad saying protest unless of course they follow the old rule show don’t tell. 🙂

  50. reminds me of raisin cakes. When alchool was illegal wineries started selling cakes of compressed raisins for “making grape juice”. On the package it a warning about what conditions to avoid at all cost, which really were instructions for how to make wine out of the cakes. It’s not like they can make an ad saying protest unless of course they follow the old rule show don’t tell. 🙂

  51. I wonder if you can use a Sharpie marker to make a protest sign against Sharpie.

    Wait a minute … Yes. Yes you can.

  52. I wonder if you can use a Sharpie marker to make a protest sign against Sharpie.

    Wait a minute … Yes. Yes you can.

  53. I’ll continue using my giant Sharpie as a buttplug, thank you very much.

  54. Conspiracy Carrot | Nov 3, 2011 at 11:13 am |

    I’ll continue using my giant Sharpie as a buttplug, thank you very much.

  55. Anonymous | Nov 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm |

    Stop protesting by using a Sharpie?  OK, I’ll just protest by printing off my sign then.

  56. StillAtMyMoms | Nov 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm |

    Stop protesting by using a Sharpie?  OK, I’ll just protest by printing off my sign then.

  57. Dude…we both know that anyone in an ad firm…is only ‘in-touch’ with things like how to manipulate emotions to sell products. I’m sure it seemed funny to the guys at the coffee well…but the truth is that it makes Sharpie look like buffoons…and it isn’t a shocker…the corporate suit brigade drew their line in the sand regarding class warfare long ago…and that side…isn’t ours.

  58. Anonymous | Nov 4, 2011 at 5:49 am |

    Modern corporate psychopathic marketing at it’s best, self expression is OK as long as it benefits corporate profit margins as is controlled by peer pressure driven marketing. Self expression being a spectator drone at a sporting event sucking up advertising. Self expression, a marketing bill board, seriously those ugly disgusting things destroying landscapes the world over. Self expression, begging for celebrity signatures, teaching youth worship the people who promote corporate crap.
    You look at all it and you realise this is self expression from the viewpoint of narcissist marketdroids, people who target children to sell out their future for corporate profits.

  59. Modern corporate psychopathic marketing at it’s best, self expression is OK as long as it benefits corporate profit margins as is controlled by peer pressure driven marketing. Self expression being a spectator drone at a sporting event sucking up advertising. Self expression, a marketing bill board, seriously those ugly disgusting things destroying landscapes the world over. Self expression, begging for celebrity signatures, teaching youth worship the people who promote corporate crap.
    You look at all it and you realise this is self expression from the viewpoint of narcissist marketdroids, people who target children to sell out their future for corporate profits.

  60. Castcoordinator | Nov 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm |

    The sign should read:

          “INB4”
    “Sharpie in pooper”

  61. Castcoordinator | Nov 4, 2011 at 10:03 am |

    The sign should read:

          “INB4”
    “Sharpie in pooper”

  62. Anonymous | Nov 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm |

    And Sharpies are the ONLY brand available? I see lots of small companies making great art markers. some are even union MADE.

    dude, drop corporate affiliation altogether.

  63. LOL I always have a Sharpie in my pocket never know when your going to need one

  64. LOL I always have a Sharpie in my pocket never know when your going to need one

  65. Micah Dylan | Mar 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm |

    “I’m against picketing, but don’t know how to show it”
    -Mitch Hedburg

    i know there are subliminal messages & all sorts of subtle little ways of manipulating society … & i know the douchebags who own & run these companies might think protesters are a bunch of a stinky hippies who need to get a job .. but still, i seriously doubt the people who created this ad thought of that sign as anything but a joke, it’s not like they could put an actual protest on there, that would be too potentially controversial (gasp!) for a marketing campaign, so ‘stop protesting’ was probably somebody’s somewhat creative & almost funny idea … not quite Mitch Hedburg, but I guess that’s why they are in marketing & not stand-up … some of you, from my interpretation of your posts, seem to think that they sat around in the boardroom & plotted this as a subliminal message, whilst rubbing their fingers together & laughing maniacally like Dr. Evil … i doubt that man i think Sharpie’s sales would go down if people quit protesting … protesters & graffiti artists alike are a constant source of income for their corporation, they don’t want to alienate them they were trying to appear cool & they kinda fucked it up it seems …

    & i leave you with Bill Hicks:
    “By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising…kill
    yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I’m
    doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no
    rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers. Kill
    yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show.
    Seriously, I know the marketing people: ‘There’s gonna be a joke comin’
    up.’ There’s no fuckin’ joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself…borrow a
    pistol from an NRA buddy, do something…rid the world of your evil
    fuckin’ presence.

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