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?

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  • Andrew

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

  • Andrew

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

  • Anonymous

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

  • SF2K01

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

  • Anonymous

    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”…….

  • GoodDoktorBad

    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”…….

    • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

      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.

  • DeepCough

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

  • DeepCough

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

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      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)

  • Godozo

    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.

  • Godozo

    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.

  • Aaron

    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)

  • Aaron

    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)

  • Heath

    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.

  • Heath

    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.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

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

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

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

    • Anarchy Pony

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

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    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)

  • justagirl

    they’re.. protesting protesters?  brilliant!!  :D

  • justagirl

    they’re.. protesting protesters?  brilliant!!  :D

    • Anon
      • justagirl

        hey hey!  ho ho!  :D

      • Seamus Dubh

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

    • Anarchy Pony

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

      • justagirl

        i see a lot more than that poopie pants.  :)

        • Anarchy Pony

          Who has poopie pants?

          • justagirl

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

          • Anarchy Pony

            ‘s’alright.

  • Anon
  • justagirl

    hey hey!  ho ho!  :D

  • Anti-Citizen1

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

  • Anti-Citizen1

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

  • justagirl

    i see a lot more than that poopie pants.  :)

  • http://fruitbattv.com/ Solar

     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.

  • http://fruitbattv.com/ Solar

     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.

    • Heath

      I think most of us here have our “glasses” :)

      • http://fruitbattv.com/ Solar

        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

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

    • Word Eater

      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.

  • Heath

    I think most of us here have our “glasses” :)

  • http://fruitbattv.com/ Solar

    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…

  • Anti-Citizen1

    Who has poopie pants?

  • Anti-Citizen1

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

  • Word Eater

    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.

  • Word Eater

    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.

  • http://twitter.com/D351 D351

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

  • http://twitter.com/D351 D351

    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

      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.

  • Murf112

    upload date way before occupy wall street  *debunked

  • Murf112

    upload date way before occupy wall street  *debunked

    • Andrew

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

    • blacklistednews

      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 :)

  • Andrew

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

  • Seamus Dubh

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

  • Girlindaytona

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

  • Girlindaytona

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

  • akbarlitting

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

  • akbarlitting

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

  • justagirl

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

  • Anonymous

    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 :)

  • Anti-Citizen1

    ‘s’alright.

  • Anti-Citizen1

    ‘s’alright.

  • Rickgallegos

    Dirty Bastards!

  • Rickgallegos

    Dirty Bastards!

  • Rickgallegos

    Dirty Bastards!

  • bob

    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. :)

  • bob

    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. :)

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/5OQFBZ26C3VQ5ONGZGDBDY4BUU Mark A

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

    Wait a minute … Yes. Yes you can.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/5OQFBZ26C3VQ5ONGZGDBDY4BUU Mark A

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

    Wait a minute … Yes. Yes you can.

  • Conspiracy Carrot

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

  • http://twitter.com/consprcy_carrot Conspiracy Carrot

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

  • Anonymous

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

  • StillAtMyMoms

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

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    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.

  • rtb61

    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.

  • Anonymous

    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.

  • Castcoordinator

    The sign should read:

          “INB4″
    “Sharpie in pooper”

  • Castcoordinator

    The sign should read:

          “INB4″
    “Sharpie in pooper”

  • Anonymous

    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.

  • http://raymitheminx.com Raymitheminx

    how bizarre

  • http://raymitheminx.com Raymitheminx

    how bizarre

  • http://www.gunnook.com Cbirdsell

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

  • http://www.gunnook.com Cbirdsell

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

  • Micah Dylan

    “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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