Do you ever stop and stare at an optical illusion? Museums have them in their halls, psychology classes use them to talk about the brain, and your hippie friend from college has posters of them all over his apartment.

It’s possible, though, that you never thought about the power optical illusions can have in the world of advertising. You want people to pay attention to your ad, and they’re guaranteed to stop and stare when you give them something their mind has to figure out.

What Are Optical Illusions?

Optical illusions are images that trick your brain into seeing things that don’t exist or seeing them from two different perspectives. Sometimes the eye and the brain are on two different pages, and the result is a visual conundrum, better known as an optical illusion.

You’ll see this at play in advertising. A good example would be the secret arrow between the “E” and “X” in FedEx’s logo. In fact, you may just see any of these popular illusions in your ads:

Technology has made optical illusions more accessible for graphic artists than ever before. As a result, more and more brands are using them everywhere from billboards and commercials to package design and promotional products. Just take a look at iridescent items and your brain will get all fuzzy in the best way!

What Companies Have Used Optical Illusions?

Ads can be interpreted in many ways, but no matter what, you want people to pay attention. That’s why it’s smart to incorporate optical illusions in your marketing.

Some notable brands have found success playing with our minds in visually-stimulating billboards, truck ads, and commercials.

Here are 10 companies that have used optical illusions:

  • Ananda Milk
  • Formula Toothcare
  • Dior
  • Snooty Peacock
  • Spartan Golf Club
  • World for All
  • Kit Kat
  • Coca-Cola
  • McDonald’s
  • Honda

#1: Ananda Milk

Ananda Milk, a dairy supplier in India, wanted to appeal to kids by showing a strong young man moving buildings with his milk machismo.

The illusion works on a grand scale. People who see the building in Mumbai, whether it’s tourists or residents, will immediately be curious to know more about the company.

#2: Formula Toothcare

You want to know your toothpaste will make your teeth shiny and strong. Formula Toothcare found the right formula by using an illusion to make it seem like the man in the ad is biting the billboard.

It’s okay to look at your advertising from a different angle. Formula Toothcare did just that, and in the process, took a big bite out of the competition.

#3: Dior

Fashion is supposed to be daring and bold. Dior took that to heart in a campaign for their Poison fragrance. It shows both a skull and as a woman looking in the mirror at the same time.

This ad is recreating a famous work of art called “All is Vanity” by Charles Allan Gilbert. It’s an exact replica of that painting and makes the viewer look twice and think about the double meaning.

#4: Snooty Peacock

Snooty Peacock, a small jewelry boutique in Texas, takes advantage of negative space to create a dual woman and peacock. This logo decorates their social media, storefront, and even some of their merchandise.

The logo is a clever way to reflect both the name of the company and the services they offer. It’s not overly complicated, and with the distinct purple and white, it’s also extremely memorable.

#5: Spartan Golf Club

The Spartan Golf Club, a student organization at Michigan State University, reflects their name well with this warrior golfer optical illusion.

Despite the battle-ready name, the organization is dedicated to a casual golf experience. Many students will want to wear this eye-catching logo on apparel like jackets and t-shirts.

#6: World for All

World for All, a non-profit dedicated to animal adoption and rights, reflected the importance of pets in these mind-bending ads.

Our pets are right in the middle of our hearts, there to light up the day and make our families complete. This is reflected in their campaign’s profound optical illusions.

#7: Kit Kat

Take a break and have a Kit Kat. While you’re crunching, try not to be confused by this ad, which makes it look like the driver is hanging around in a hammock instead of behind the wheel.

If you’re driving alongside this truck in rush hour traffic, you’ll instantly want to look closer at this illusion. As a result, you might really crave a Kit Kat… and a hammock.

#8: Coca-Cola

In 2015, Coca-Cola created a series of optical illusions that highlighted their environmental impact. The soft drink company takes pride in using plants to make their signature bottles.

Coca-Cola is one of the most iconic brands in the world, but they are still willing to be inventive with their advertising. This ad strays from the typical style, making it all the more powerful in spreading its green message.

It’s never too late to try something new! Sure, Coke may be known for their polar bears, logoed coolers, and Santa Claus, but they still play with perception and invest in clever marketing.

#9: McDonald’s

The fast food restaurant has always been known for loving to see you smile. People can’t help but grin looking at this light pole, which makes it seem like a pot of coffee is floating in mid-air!

McDonald’s super-sized their marketing by cleverly using a light pole instead of another commercial or paper ad. The end result is nothing short of a work of art!

It just goes to show that anything and everything can be used to help you advertise your brand. Get creative, think outside of the box, and incorporate illusions whenever possible. Just imagine how many shares an ad like this will get on social media. That means a ton of attention for your brand!

#10: Honda

The CRV is one of the best-selling models for Honda. The ad claims that these cars are “making an impossible possible.” They reflect that sentiment by defying gravity in one of their memorable promos.

Take a look at the “impossible” in action!

Honda is an established car company, but this ad shows they’re willing to get creative and a little weird. It was a memorable way to bring more attention to the CRV.

It’s All an Illusion!

Your brain, no pun intended, has a mind of its own. It’s going to try and make sense of the world around you by relying on visual cues. Optical illusions mess with perception, raise questions, and spark debates. What more can you ask for when it comes to getting the word out there about your brand?

For more information about optical illusions, check out any of these sites!

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over three years of experience in the industry. Her passion for writing has led to a BA in English & Communications from Aurora University and work published for the Advertising Specialty Institute and The Bolingbrook Sun Times.