Surrealism in advertising

Possibly the single biggest influence on modern advertising techniques lends itself from the Surrealist method. From Dali's paranoiac critical to Magritte's juxtaposition, they are all there for one to see. The idea of hidden latent sexuality in objects is also a major part of the advertising ploy of the modern age. How many companies use sexual images to sell their products, regardless of the nature of the product?

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Calvin Klein - Reality for men

The most important feature though is the anchoring that is used. By this I mean that basically a product is advertised usually on the strength of an association with an ideal or concept. For example, dairy products might be anchored with the countryside and fresh flowery fields, aftershave with ultimately attractive members of the opposite sex and sexual success. It is this association which sells a product. Often it is this association and also the bombardment of these images in order to constantly reinforce the ideas that place a product within a certain framework in our minds.

Prozac - wash your blues away

Manipulation of images of this kind is seen all through surrealist work. Particularly as aforementioned in Dali's paranoiac critical method, where double images appear constantly associating one with another and also in Magritte's juxtaposition of objects - this is the most blatant similarity. Magritte places objects in contexts where they are unfamiliar with the viewer, a rock in the air for instance. This image might be also used in advertising as, say, to indicate how 'light' a sugar free drink will make you feel, there are many more examples but this serves to illustrate my point. The manipulation and anchoring of images is essential in modern advertising and also in much of the historical, especially wartime, propaganda.

Imagine if the advertising industry resorted to more 'honest' ways of portraying their products. The images on this page were obtained from