Subliminal Advertising

Subliminal advertising is the use of subtle messages to evoke the subconscious of the people, inducing them to hold a favorable stand over a product. There has been a lot of controversy revolving over this form of advertising. While on one hand, we have a faction of people disbelieving that such a thing exists; on the other hand, we have people who claim it as an act of unfairness, a witchery that makes them buy what they do not want to buy. 

  • The term was first coined in 1957 by a researcher named James Vicary. He inserted the phrases – “drink coca cola” and “eat popcorn” into a movie, long enough to awaken the subconscious of the viewers. The results? Voila, the sales of cola and popcorn boosted, allegedly. Vicary later admitted that his whole research was a hoax. So much for the accuracy of research, right? 
  • Vicary fired a bullet – blindfolded, and yet hit the bull’s eye. In 1999, a Harvard study proved that subliminal messages do evoke the subconscious. 
  • In contrary to traditional advertising, which focuses entirely on drawing the attention of the public towards any given product, subliminal advertising does the same deed in a shrewd manner. Think of subliminal messages as the moon in the morning sky, at times you see it, and at times you don’t, but just because you do not see it, its existence cannot be denied.
  • Companies such as Coca-Cola, Baskin Robbins, and even Amazon have conveyed subliminal messages to the masses. Either these companies have used it, or we see what we like to see, and derive our own meaning out of it. 

 The debate regarding the existence of subliminal advertising rages on till date. In some countries, use of such form of advertising is banned. Let us assume that these countries are taking precautions for a problem that does not exist. One never knows though, as to who is twisting our arm to do what. If subliminal advertising does exist, I’d call it the “master of puppets.”


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