Bob Rennie’s subliminal sex

“As an individual becomes aware of subliminal phenomena, the shock may cause him some initial physical or emotional discomfort — possibly even concern over his sanity.”  –Wilson Bryan Key, Subliminal Seduction: Ad Media’s Manipulation of a Not So Innocent America,1973

Are you being sexually aroused by this condo ad? Being the big geek that I am, I find it impossible to look at this Crossroads condo publicity shot without thinking about the work of Wilson Bryan Key. Back in the 1970s, Key was part of a rat pack of media studies professors, back when media studies was so cool it could get you a role in a Woody Allen movie.

In his time, Key made his mark as the whistle-blower on the use of subliminal messages in advertising. His book Subliminal Seduction is a manual on how to protect oneself from “media rape” (his words) by identifying the hidden sex messages in everyday ads. Despite its questionable academic merit, the book is a blast to read simply for Key’s obsessiveness in detecting naughty bits everywhere. (Is that an ice cube in the martini glass or the towering shadow of a rhinoceros penis?)

Bunk or not, Key’s techniques offer a fun way for us to look at the Crossroads ad. Consider the obsession with long bottles, both on the store shelves and in the firm grip of the man’s hand. Think too of the man’s “bottle” and its perfect alignment with the woman’s breasts. Is this a simple condo ad or is it telling us something more?

I’ll say this much: This is a Rennie condo ad and it wasn’t created on a whim. It involved time and planning. Choices were made, models were posed and a final image was selected. The people who did this were paid to do it, and probably paid pretty well. A hack job it is not. Key’s writing may be over the top, but he isn’t the only one with sex on his mind.

19 Responses to “Bob Rennie’s subliminal sex”

  1. robbennie Says:

    Wally Cox on the make!
    Has Jeff Wall started shooting lifestyle stock!
    Egads!

  2. Bubble Lad Says:

    LOL – Jeff Wall – it does look eerily like his stuff!

    But I’m thinking the “crossroads” is the dude’s sexual orientation – he can’t decide between the distinctly phallic bottle he’s holding and the bazoongas he seems riveted on (it doesn’t look to me like he’s looking at her eyes).

  3. s.p. Says:

    the cross roads symbol is in awfully close to …her um…skirt area.
    like some kind of target?

  4. Carioca Canuck Says:

    The female model’s stomach sticks out as far, or more, than her breasts do……..so the answer is…….no arousal here.

  5. ThePope Says:

    Carioca, you never studied anatomy did you? That’s a hip, not a stomach.

    Condohype, don’t blame Rennie just because you have dirty mind. Remember that real estate marketing is a professional job, quite possibly the worlds oldest profession. The couple in this image is simply shopping for oil to bring back to his newly erected condo. They’ll enter through the back door and ride the elevator shaft to the tight little 69th floor unit where he’ll blow wads of cash on her and she’ll appreciate his well-hung art. It’s all quite innocent I assure you.

  6. ds7777 Says:

    its nice to see where he’s actually looking….absolutely no eye contact

  7. vreaa Says:

    Would this classify as ‘subliminal’?
    Isn’t it completely consciously selling the promise of encounters and connections?

  8. Alexas Says:

    It looks like guy (an urban professional) accidently farted while picking stuff and realized he’s not alone. Look that stupid smile like ooops, sorry… while experiencing a really bad smell. On the bright side here we have a geeky girl that can understand and deal with situation so hook-up might be an option since they both immediately recognized that they are part of elite in this world class city.

  9. Larry Yatkowsky Says:

    Wouldn’t anybody’s evening be at a Cross Road if the choice was Olive Oil in hand or Pineapple in basket?

    just sayin… .>)

  10. Ultraman Says:

    Carioca Canuck be nice with the fine lady. She’s just a little bloated and it’s mostly water.

  11. aetakeo Says:

    Gah! Look at the “How YOU doin’?” face.
    I don’t think this is necessarily meant only for the male FB. In which case, they could have leaned a little less hard on ‘intellectual neurotic’ in styling and casting the male model. Although that’s a sizable bottle of olive oil (Whoo! mazola parties go uptown! Is that a bottle of high end olive oil in your pants or are you happy to see me?), smugly horny underemployed screenwriter isn’t exactly a “rush to the mortgage broker” sales image.

  12. aetakeo Says:

    Also, Carioca, I think that maybe bad photoshop has ruined your ability to glean “perspective” from the two dimensional shot. It’s a common problem these days. I saw a cover with Scarlett Johanneson where they’d tried to take the perspective out and she ended up having one arm about 2/3rds of the size of the other. How embarrassing for them.

  13. jesse Says:

    Isn’t that Guy Pierce from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?

  14. patriotz Says:

    Um, isn’t that Rennie himself in the ad?

    Authentic Rennie photo

    Either that or he’s got some David Lynch/Kyle McLaughlin thing going.

  15. Tom Says:

    If that were Rennie then he might be looking at the man standing behind her. It’s odd how Rennie has such a high profile and his being gay rarely comes up.

  16. condohype Says:

    Tom, there’s no reason for sexual orientation to come up, period. It’s a testament to the civility and character of the Vancouver media and the local public that sexual orientation is essentially a non-issue. This is not odd, this is the way it should be.

  17. Tim Says:

    I’m quite pleased that I actually have no idea what that guy is holding. Does that mean I’d be ostracized by other residents if I bought a condo in Crossroads?

    Very funny blog. I guess they have to do something in these ads to compensate/distract for the fact that they can’t sell houses on the financial benefits for now. Maybe that’s the plan – make the ads so bad that you forget what a crappy deal the average condo is for the average person. When ads start saying, “Buy this with 10% down over 25 years for less per month than you spend on rent” it’s time to buy.

  18. anon Says:

    If only the model in the ad on the left was REALLY a woman…

    (another of Subliminal Seduction’s major premises).

    By the way, Key was dead on the money.

  19. olbutz Says:

    thank you for putting that quote up there from the book you mentioned. i havnt read it but i have been going through exactly that process. including the question of my sanity. but its the world thats crazy. crazier than i ever gave it credit for.
    at least in a book somewhere im not crazy.
    its not much but its something.

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