With tobacco companies pioneering new forms of sensory branding, how far could, or should, subliminal communications be taken? Tobacco companies are very aware of the existing ‘rules of engagement’ when delivering brand values and lifestyle imagery. With nanotechnology and miniaturisation on the horizon that could deliver pre-programmed and interactive communication on packaging, they might be wise to stick to those rules or suffer further punitive measures and ‘nanny state’ accusations of coercion. For an example of more sinister subliminal communication, look at child-friendly McDonald’s.

Tim Collins, Director, Path

Taken to the extreme, subliminal communication allows your mind to accept and store everything without discrimination. It doesn’t determine right from wrong, it just stores everything that you experience. This is life without choice. In our so-called ‘consumer culture’ it seems to me as if we have already succumbed to the bombardment of the advertising world. Under the disguise of greater choice, we now already instinctively consume what we are told to.

Orlando Mathias, Interaction director, All Of Us There are probably no limits. Soon tobacco will not be the only product restricted in advertising and promotion. Other socially sensitive products such as alcohol will start using all of the technologies available.

Satkar Gidda, Sales and marketing director, Siebert Head

A society with a well-informed population is a positive outcome of the 20th century. Subliminal advertising undermines this, creeping into the subconscious. I don’t want to be told to smoke cigarettes unless I know about it and can choose to act upon it or ignore it.

Sophie Thomas, Director, Thomas Matthews

It’s astonishing that there are consultancies of note repositioning products responsible for such a damaging addiction. We should be using our skills to help people, rather than put them into bondage. It’s not what our industry should be known for. It is one thing to smoke yourself and another to encourage others; name and shame the heartless money-grabbers who do.

Marksteen Adamson, Partner, ASHA

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