Persuasive Speech: Don't Be Persuaded by Subliminal Advertising

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PURPOSE: To persuade my audience to refuse to be persuaded by subliminal advertising


Who here has seen the movie "Fight Club"? If you have, you have been exposed to a thing called subliminal messaging.

Let me show you a short clip from the movie. [show clip]

Okay, raise your hand if you saw the image flash on the screen.

For those of you who didn't see it, here it is in slow-motion. [show the image]

I noticed three other instances just like that one. That's not even all; there's lots more to watch out for in that movie.

Those kinds of techniques are used all of the time, especially in advertising.


Most of us remember an incident involving George "Dubyah" Bush. During the campaigns, the Republican party ran a commercial in which they said that Al Gore's prescription plan "lets bureaucrats decide." Right then, the word "RATS" flashed on the screen. Bush defended the ad by saying he really didn't think it was intended to be "subliminibal." Did the ad work? You tell me. He got elected, didn't he?

You might have heard that at movie theaters, they used to flash images ["popcorn"] onto the screen in order to encourage people to get up and buy something at the concessions stand. It worked.

At K-mart, when they flashed the message "PLEASE DON'T STEAL" onto their monitors in the stores, theft was reduced by about 30%.

Now, look at this Winston cigarette ad from 1976.

First of all, notice how everything points to the product. His arms, the open shirt, the necklace, even the fact that he has a beard; it all seems to point to the pack of cigarettes.

This is not accidental. We know that the ad companies spend obscene amounts of time and money creating each shot. Nothing is allowed in that wasn't premeditated.

By the way, the necklace is a Hebrew symbol of fertility. Nah, that's not suggestive!

Now look at this jar. Notice how it's the only thing in the background that's not heavily blurred.

If you look closely you can see the letters UICIDE.

The only word in the English language that has that combination of letters is "SUICIDE."

Now, why would they put that in their ad? The tobacco industry has been telling us for years that smoking is not suicide!

The reason they did this is because it appeals to the smoker's sense of danger and self-destruction.

Even if you're not the smoker that this ad is ...

... middle of paper ...

... I am LOVE ISRAEL."


They associated the name with both Jesus and God.

The one common denominator in Jonestown, Waco, and all of the others is that the members of the cult believed that the leader was Jesus Christ.

This is not harmless.


If you continue to passively ignore what advertisers (and others) are doing to influence you, you will forever be under their control.

But, if you use this information to your advantage, you can take back something precious: your freedom of mind. You will be the only one in control of your thoughts, and charismatic strangers will no longer have the power to alter the path of your life.


So, the next time you see an ad that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, or makes you feel anything, for that matter, it should raise a red flag in your mind. Then, take a second look. What you find may surprise you.


Fight Club, 1999, Regency Productions and 20th Century Fox

Founding member, Freedom of Thought Foundation. Personal interview, April 6, 2007. (1998) Subliminal Advertising: Are You a Victim?

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