Is Subliminal Advertising Effective?

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Is Subliminal Advertising Effective?

The average American views an average of 1500 ads every single day! Did you know that some of these ads have hidden pictures, words, or even sound inside of them? These hidden things are called subliminal messages. When used correctly, these hidden messages have been proven to persuade us to do certain things.

What are Subliminal Messages?

Subliminal messages are things that are stored inside of our subconscious. They are known as are hidden messages because we have no knowledge of the things inside our subconscious.

The subconscious is one part of our brain. We are not aware of the things inside our subconscious part. However, our subconscious remembers every single detail of every single thing we see! It works just like a computer because it views information (ads), and stores it into our memory (brain.)

Some examples are:

• a small image(s) hidden inside a larger picture

• a audio message hidden inside a cassette tape

• hidden messages inside songs that you hear when you play it backwards

• hidden words or pictures that quickly appear inside a television show, movie, or commercial

In order for these items to be subliminal or "hidden" messages, they must not be noticeable to the human eye or ear.

Our subconscious effects us on a daily basis. In fact, it is responsible for the following:

• little slips of the tongue

• unexplainable actions or thoughts

• ideas, songs and memories that suddenly "pop" into our heads

In the Beginning:

Subliminal messages have become a very powerful way to get your message out to the public. It all started in 1957 when James M. Vicary created an "invisible commercial" for a movie theatre. This "invisible commercial" contained several brief messages that were hidden inside of one main message. For example, during the main commercial the words "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungary? Eat Popcorn" would flash on the screen. These interruptions would occur every five seconds, and they would last for 1/3000th of a second. These brief food and beverage interruptions were not noticeable to the viewers. However, the people that watched these commercials had an unexplainable urge to eat popcorn and drink coca-cola. Overall, popcorn sales increased 57.5% and drink sales increased 18.1%.

People were outraged when they heard about th...

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...ble teach people who would have been almost impossible to reach any other way.

Subliminal messages are also inside tapes to help people quit smoking and lose weight. These tapes have proven to be very effective. Unfortunately, people don't always stop smoking after listening to these tapes, but they do smoke less than they used to.


Subliminal messages are a very, very powerful marketing tool. They can be used to persuade us to feel or do may different things. However, the effects of subliminal messages are short term. The only exception to this short term effect occurs when the subliminal messages are teaching us to do or not to do something.

Here is a list of websites with examples of subliminal ads.


"Subliminal Messages Alive and Well"

Butler, S. Ron, "subliminal advertising: return of the hidden persuaders"

"The Effects of Subliminal Advertising"

Thomas, Chris "Subliminal Perception"

Leroux, Kivi "Subliminal Messages"

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