Kamilia Palu, 10 January 2016

A seemingly harmless picture of a BP service station near the Central Coast has sparked a conversation on social media suggesting that the petrol giant is engaging in subliminal advertising for cigarettes.

At first glance, the photo taken by Twitter user Rupert Hanson of the store in Morisset doesn’t appear to show anything out of the ordinary, with a tidy storefront and three empty car park spaces.

But on closer inspection, Rupert noticed the pylons used along the footpath were painted white with an orange top, strongly resembling cigarettes.

“This has to be an attempt to make servo customers buy smokes,” he captioned the photo.

“It took me an uncomfortably long time to get this,” one Twitter user admitted, confirming that the message was indeed well hidden.

The 32-year-old software developer said he stopped by the service station to fill up with fuel and noticed the bollards were ‘off-brand’ for BP given their normal green and yellow colouring.

“That’s when it struck me they looked almost exactly like cigarettes and given service stations are always searching for ways to lure customers in the store to buy groceries, it occurred to me it could easily be subliminal advertising to get motorists to pick up some overpriced darts,” he told Yahoo7.

Reddit users flooded the image with comments, leaving Rupert ‘completely surprised’ at how many agree with his suggestion of subliminal advertising.

“After advertising bans and plain packaging laws the cigarette companies need to find new ways to get people to smoke,” one user wrote.

“The more I stare at it, the less subtle it becomes,” said another.

“Are you smoking yet?!” one user quipped.

Other users were more sceptical, implying the colouring of the markers were coincidental.

“Pylons can’t make anyone do anything,” said one user.

“If you feel like smoking looking at that you have a severe psychological issue that needs addressing,” wrote another, which led to an angry reply from a user who apparently felt the pull of the ‘advertising’ after recently quitting smoking.

“Yeh hey I’m 22 days into quitting but obviously if I look at this and feel like a smoke I’ve got f*****g brain issues. Actually yeh [sic] I do. Called addiction a******e.”

A BP employee said the pylon colouring had been white and orange for as long as she can remember.

“I’ve been here eight years and it’s always been that way,” she said.

Yahoo!7 has contacted BP Australia for comment.

Extracted in full from 7 News.