Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cartier borrows from subliminal playbook, chastity belt

A recent ad for Cartier’s new Leve bracelet has a sexual feel, but not from the types of sexual content typically found in magazine advertising; as the ad contains no physically attractive models, no nudity, and no sexual behavior. At a higher level of processing, however, one could argue that the ad is fraught with sexual referents (allusions to objects with sexual meaning) and embeds (content interpreted as sexual at the subconscious level).

Sex and Death Embeds
Looking at the ad though the lens of Wilson Key (the guy who sees sex in ice cubes, and clouds, and…), it becomes obvious that the bracelet and key could be interpreted as symbolism for genitalia. While size is obviously distorted, there is an argument for power dynamics if the ad is geared toward women, as the key is much smaller than the bracelet it locks.

Notice the flames/steam coming off of the bracelet which could allude to the heat of passion this product evokes. Also note the red smoke in the background. One can argue that there is a skull-like face in the smoke (aka, death embed).

A Modern-Day Chastity Belt
At another level, there is the implied issue of bondage, or at least of “locking your woman up” to keep her away from other potential mates. Consider the tagline, “How far would you go for love?” The line could imply bondage or invoke ideas of chastity belts. The inspiration for Leve was a Cartier bracelet that “screwed around the wrist of the beloved with a screwdriver… possessing or letting yourself be possessed.”

In this ad, most viewers probably just see a bracelet and a key. Upon further analysis, however, some might say this ad is a very good example of sexual referents and embeds.

--Posted by Justin Pettigrew

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