If You Look At This Ad From A Particular Perspective, You Can See A Powerful Hidden Message

Adverts can make or break a going concern. As a result, most advertising campaigns are made to appeal to the widest possible audience. More often than not, the imagery used is straightforward and direct, simplified to attract the maximum viewership. However, one particular promotional push, rolled out in Spain in early 2018, took a dual approach, effectively splitting its audience. The poster campaign hid an extremely powerful message, which was designed to only be visible from a certain angle and to address a very small demographic.

Sophisticated consumers are well aware that some adverts toy around with visuals to play tricks on the eyes and make the public view the particular product or service differently. Indeed, novelty is a highly desirable weapon in the battle for people’s attention in a media-saturated world. For instance, in 2013 Nike utilized a 3D hologram to advertise the company’s latest footwear in Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. A device known as a Holocube is able to create and project three-dimensional models of products, and marketers for the global sportswear brand were quick to recognize its outstanding potential.

Another example of technology assisting advertising in its efforts to get a message across is lenticular printing. Most people will be familiar with the basic effect, even if they are unaware of the actual name of the process. In essence, lenticular printing allows an artist or advertiser to give an image an artificial “depth.”

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Perhaps the most common examples of lenticular printed material are those greetings cards which feature an altered view when tilted. The change to the picture is created by splicing two or more images together using closely intertwined strips. Using plastic lenses, light then reflects off each spliced image at different angles, creating the illusion of a changing picture.

Generally speaking, there are three kinds of lenticular printing – transforming prints, which feature radically different images for dramatic effect; animated prints, where only small changes to the imagery creates the illusion of movement; and stereoscopic effects, which place subtle image changes before a viewer to form the impression of a 3D picture.

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When Madrid-based advertising agency Grey Spain was approached to make a new, innovative advert by its near-neighbors the ANAR Foundation in 2013, the creatives opted to use the lenticular printing process. By incorporating this ever-evolving technology, the Grey gang could easily create an arresting ad with two different images. This was welcomed by the client, as the subliminal nature of the campaign dovetailed neatly with the sensitive work the organization is involved in.

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Indeed, the ANAR Foundation advocates for children’s welfare and rights and often steps in to help vulnerable youngsters escape cycles of abuse. As a matter of fact, ANAR stands for Ayuda a Niños y Adolescentes en Riesgo – which translates as Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk. As well as raising awareness, the charitable organization provides sheltered housing and a nationwide Spanish telephone hotline for children in abusive set ups.

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And it was this last service that the ANAR Foundation was keen to publicize in 2013. It was felt that the word should be spread about a phone number abused Spanish kids could call for help. A poster campaign was thought to be the way forward, but the charity was well aware that most abused children would actually be with their aggressor when they saw such material. Doubtless some abusers would be angered if their child even glanced at an ad like that. And obviously ANAR did not want to make any bad situations worse.

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But the conceptualists at Grey Spain saw the potential of lenticular printing in creating an poster ad with a message which would potentially only be seen by children. The Madrid team began by determining the average height of a child, versus the average height of an adult. As a result, the Grey Spain designers could specially calibrate their image of a poster child for the campaign.

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Consequently, if someone viewing the final ad was more than four foot, five inches in height, they would have seen a straightforward image of a young boy with the simple slogan, “Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.” The poster listed the ANAR Foundation hotline number underneath, as well as contact details allowing charitable members of the public to make a contribution. The model for the advert was pictured looking unhappy but essentially unharmed.

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However, when the Grey Spain poster was viewed from below the vantage point of four foot, five inches, a rather clever hidden message revealed itself. Written in simplistic language for a child to easily digest, it read, “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you.”

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More dramatic still, viewed from that reduced angle, cuts and bruises appeared on the poster boy’s face. This was to vividly get the message across to vulnerable kids who may not appreciate what actually constitutes abuse. Apparently, it is sadly all too common for a child in an abusive situation with a close family member to consider it normal. As such, the youngster in question is much less likely to inform others about any ongoing violence or abuse.

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Actually, it is important to realize that many abused children do not report their mistreatment, and this can be for a number of reasons. It can be that the confused victim feels as if they are somehow to blame, or even that they deserve it. On the other hand, sometimes the sufferer will stay quiet because they worry about the consequences to their family of speaking up. Or perhaps the abused kid will be put off contacting the authorities because they think that no-one will believe them.

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By going with the lenticular-printing idea, ANAR found a way of reaching children literally on their level – and only at their level. That being said, the dual-purpose campaign also presented an interesting and innovative way for the charity to raise money as well as awareness. This was especially valuable, considering the need for not-for-profits to further charitable funds at the same time as fulfilling their original objectives.

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In fact, most charities receive complaints over the same issue – regardless of their sphere of influence or their deserving cause. On the whole, people dislike and mistrust most attempts by charities to raise funds. It can appear to a cynical public that many not-for-profits work harder soliciting cash than actually achieving any charitable goals.

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But ANAR considered this an unreasonable attitude because of the urgency of the message it was trying to convey. The organization highlighted the fact that child abuse is a cyclical process. And furthermore it underlined the need for this chain to be broken. Appallingly, it has been estimated that some 70 percent of abused children eventually go on to become abusers themselves. As such, it is a massive undertaking to attempt to end this circle of misery.

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However, also in 2013, the Mexican branch of the Save the Children global charity also focused on this damaging issue. The off-shoot released a series of powerful adverts to visually emphasize how abused youngsters grow up to repeat their mistreatment. But, in contrast to ANAR’s lenticular printed poster, the Mexico City-based organization utilized a different method.

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Indeed, the Mexican Save the Children ads showed five models portraying various stages in the life of a single character. As such, all the subjects were of different ages but had similar facial features and the same color hair. In each ad, a child was cleverly and effectively shown being subjected to abuse by an adult version of themselves.

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Additionally, viewers could observe the changes in the child maturing, with the models becoming more visibly angry as “time” passed. The adverts were created by Y&R, a global marketing and communications agency with offices in Mexico. The result was a campaign presenting an arresting and unsettling portrayal of the cycle of child abuse.

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Ultimately, of course, child mistreatment is an insidious and persistent problem for societies all over the world. What’s more, many children will only open up about abuse years after the fact. Indeed, a 2013 study by the U.K’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said as much. It found that, on average, it can take almost eight years for a child to tell someone about their abuse. So more awareness about this vitally important problem – no matter what the delivery system – can only be a good thing.

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