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4 Examples of Subliminal Advertising in Email Marketing

We can find hidden meanings wherever we look. As a marketing expert, you understand the importance of these communications.

However, subliminal advertising via email marketing does not seem to be as straightforward as some of the more well-known instances from large corporations.

Tostitos, for example, skillfully used subliminal advertising in their design. In case you missed it, their new logo features two individuals enjoying a chip and a bowl of salsa.

Subliminal advertising is Tostitos logo

This was a clever approach for the company to convey that its chips are intended to be shared in social situations without explicitly stating so. When customers view the picture, they automatically assume that this bag of chips would be an excellent complement to their next social event.

That’s subliminal advertising in action.

Subliminal advertising has been the subject of much debate over the years, so it’s not uncommon for people to criticize the technique. Should subliminal advertising be used in email marketing? Let’s speak about the practice first, since it’s not necessarily what it seems to be.

Should you use subliminal advertising in email marketing?

Subliminal advertising is the art of manipulating people’s brains, which is why it often draws harsh public condemnation. What most individuals don’t realize is that subliminal advertising is all around them.

What exactly is subliminal advertising?

The employment of subliminal (or concealed) signals in the design of material is known as subliminal advertising. The goal is to involve individuals unconsciously rather than telling them what they should believe or do.

Most people associate subliminal advertising with concealed graphics, such as the Tostitos logo in the illustration above. However, it is not the only aspect in creating subliminal messages. These subtle advertising messages may also be created via the use of diverse colors, forms, and text.

While visual imagery is important in subliminal advertising in email marketing, your marketing team will also want to use color psychology and play with the meaning of certain words and phrases.

Each of these instances stands out for various reasons, and we’ll go into why we liked them all.

Subliminal advertisement by Vinyl Me Please

Vinyl Me Please subliminal advertising in email marketing logo
Source: Really Good Emails

We’re starting with this example from Vinyl Me Please since the introductory visual does an excellent job of getting the readers in the mood for music.

To begin, the brand name contains the term vinyl. Take another look at the first photograph. What form does it take? A large circular circle, similar to a vinyl record.

What words in that first picture stand out to you? A circle travels by spinning in the same place. Otherwise, something is perceived as repeating its pattern again and over. When we set a song on repeat in music, we are also repeating it.

Vinyl Me Please is not simply promising readers that they will like the music promoted in the message in this email. They also convince them that they would appreciate it so much that they will play it again and again.

All of that information is included in a single leading picture, and only a few words were required to get us to that conclusion.

The use of subliminal advertising by Glossier

Subliminal advertising in email marketing - Glossier's image and headline

Images are important in subliminal advertising. That being said, although the picture in this Glossier example plays a role in their subliminal advertising message, it’s the headline language that really sets the ball rolling.

“You are the most vital component.”

We’re now given with the leading picture of a female holding a sample perfume bottle, which has set your brain in action. This email will introduce readers to a new scent made with components we like.

Six words and one picture later, our minds are already telling us that we’re going to enjoy this new scent since we’re the main component.

Glossier, well done.

Subliminal advertisement by Bebe

Subliminal advertising in email marketing - Bebe's image and headliner
Source: Milled

With their headlining text, Bebe goes in a somewhat intriguing path. In Western culture, the term “get in your trousers” is often used in a sexual context. Bebe, on the other hand, has exploited it to persuade their audience to think.

Most people who get this letter from Bebe will not immediately think of the sexual meaning of the headline text. Rather, they’ll consider the concept it conveys: being beautiful enough to pull off this appearance and be wanted for it.

The picture that follows the header text further confirms this mental process since the company has decided to present these “must-wear” leggings on two really stunning models.

The subliminal message in this email is that if you purchase these leggings, you will look and feel as fantastic as these models. Again, just four words and one picture are required to deliver the full idea to readers.

Subliminal advertising in email marketing is effective. Especially if you’re attempting to persuade your audience to buy anything.

Subliminal advertisement by Nike

 Subliminal advertising in email marketing - Nike uses color psychology
Source: Milled

Nike is well-known for using subliminal advertising in their email marketing campaigns. They know how to utilize content, images, and other elements to persuade their audience that they need Nike items, and this email sample is no exception.

Let’s start with the email subject line that drew the reader’s attention in this example:

“Red fashions that will make your heart race”

Because this is a February advertisement, the reader’s imagination immediately associates red with Valentine’s Day and the heart. Because this is a sportswear brand, the reader’s attention is likewise diverted from the “heart racing” to getting up and moving.

All of this occurs unconsciously because the email was brought to your inbox in February, the subject line has the word “red,” and Nike referenced heart pounding. The consumer’s conclusion is logical: this is a shoe-related communication.

When the reader eventually reads the message, he or she is welcomed with a bright red shoe. According to color psychology, the color red causes readers to pause. Nike took advantage of this since the red sneaker is merely one of the pictures shown in their header animation in the live preview of this email.


Email marketing subliminal advertising does not have to be as complicated as it seems. In fact, everywhere you turn, there are examples to aid you in your creative process. Subliminal messages may be used in your email marketing campaigns in a variety of ways, from logos to clever wording and color usage.

If you’re not sure where to begin with crafting subliminal messages, you should begin by:

  • Experiment with numerous permutations of famous phrases – keeping in mind that words and phrases may not necessarily have the same meaning for everyone.
  • Investigating color psychology – various hues might drive your readers in different paths.
  • A/B testing your content before sending – if you don’t split test before sending, you won’t know how your readers will react to this marketing technique.