The Effects of Subliminal Advertising
The power of subliminal advertising in effecting consumers is still unproven. The concept of subliminal advertising is based on a "threshold". "This [is] thought to be a fixed point below which awareness does not extend." (Sutherland: p.30) If a word is flashed on a television screen for 50 milliseconds a person would not be conscious of it. If the time of the exposure is increased the word crosses the threshold and a person becomes consciously aware of the word. This process varies within the same person from day to day. For example, if a person is hungry while watching television, advertisements of food will be noticed more than if that same person just ate. Sometimes we are more alert than at other times. The effects of being tired, using drugs or alcohol can also vary when a stimulus is registered.
This is an example of a subliminal advertisement. In the bottom of the glass it says "U BUY". This message subliminally tells the consumer to buy their certain product, hoping for their sales to increase.
The notion of subliminal advertising grew within the 1950's. A man named James Vicary who inserted subliminal messages in movies "sparked the first large-scale subliminal scare, and his projections into the subconscious, though never documented or replicated, are still frequently cited as "evidence" of the insidious power of subliminals." (Subliminal Survives) Although sales of cola increased 18% and sales pf popcorn increased 58%, Vicary later downplayed the effectiveness of subliminal advertising due to the small amount of research he had collected from it.
In the 21st century, subliminal messages are still thought to be us...
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...inal Advertising) There are many positive aspects to some subliminal techniques. An example of this is tapes which aid people to loose weight or stop smoking. In turn, they have become a popular self-help fad.
Subliminal advertising, wether it works or not, will no doubt be utilized indefinately by companies to advertise their products.
Elliston, Jon. March 25, 2001. Hidden Persuasion?. [on-line], xx. Available:
Elliston, Jon. March 25, 2001. Subliminal Survives. [on-line], xx. Available:
No Author. March 14, 2001. Subliminal Advertising. [on-line], xx. Available:
Sutherland, Max. 1993. Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer. Australia: Allen and
Unwin Pty Ltd.
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