The power of subliminal messaging in advertisements

The power of the subliminal messaging in advertisements is inevitable. The term “subliminal message” was popularized in 1917 (World War I), when the US army would sneak messages into songs and put subliminal messages in posters trying to get people to join the army. Subliminal messaging is known to be as form of communication, which is below the threshold of our consciousness. This simply means we subconsciously detect the messages that we hear, read or watch. Usually, subliminal messages are embedded in another object (or form) and are transmitted to the viewer or listener briefly. But how can the subliminal messages in advertisements be so powerful when we don’t even get to recognize them consciously?

Believe it or not, subliminal messaging can be pretty harmful. In “Subliminal Seduction” which was written by Wilson Bryan Key in 1973, he claims that subliminal techniques that were widely used in commercial advertising can lead to certain dangerous consequences on the viewers or listeners.

Scientists later do confirm that subliminal messaging in advertisements do work, especially if the conditions are right.

But why use subliminal messaging instead of normal messaging in advertisements?

Try digesting this:

Erotic and vivid images definitely appeal to all viewers, but the only thing is that it is made too obvious such that if one asks you what the advertisement is about, you are able to recap is back easily. This scientifically means that you are at the conscious level when you heard/saw the advertisement. It barely leaves an impact on you. For example, images or products that are purposely placed in movies like Burger King in “Men In Black II” are not subliminal because all the advertisers hope for is for viewers to remember the product. But this is considered as one of the most ineffective way in promoting the product, unlike subliminal ads that are able to escape the conscious awareness of every human and hence leaving a greater impact.

Subliminal ads that usually include specific and brief messages can actually appeal a vast crowd. Like as aforementioned, it works by influencing the human subconscious mind. You may not have known but in a recent study, 4 out of 5 of the words “SEX” were embedded into vacation slides such that they were not visibly noticeable.

In 1957, NY drive-in theater flashed the words “Drink Coca Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” for 1/3000th of a second ever 5 seconds over and over again across the face of the actor, throughout the movie. Guess what? An NY market researcher, James Vicary gloat as he talked about the increase of 58% in Coke and 18% in popcorn sales.

Citizens and congressmen were outraged and ever since then, the concept of subliminal messages or anything of that sort became hard for people to embrace.

We don’t know for sure whether advertisers really try to induce people subliminally or, in fact, subliminal ads really do deliver the promised embedded messages. But if subliminal advertisements were indeed capable of exerting this kind of effect on our behavior, and without our knowledge, then obviously we would need protection from it.

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