Monday, October 28, 2013

5. Subliminal Advertising

I've always wondered if subliminal advertising really works. If the messages are hidden from our direct sight, can they still influence our subconsciousness? And if they can, how does it benefit the company? There are a lot of ads that are thought to contain subliminal messages, most of which are linked to either sex or power. Here are some examples.

Image via CBS
Looking at the Camel logo closely, you might see a figure of a naked man on the camel's front leg and shoulder.

Image via CBS
The ice on top of the can resembles an outline of a nude female body lying on her side.

Image via Business Insider
Flipping the image reveals the sexual implication of the Heineken ad.

Image via Business Insider
Some people see a racist message in this Intel ad.

Image via Business Insider
Having soft and smooth heels can bear a sexual connotation.

The scooped ice cream reveals a naked female body.

Image via Business Insider
One might spot a dollar bill hidden in the sandwich in this KFC ad.

As you may see, some hidden messages are more obvious than others. But I'd say most of them require a close inspection, and even then it's not clear if the message really exists or if it's just a result of your imagination. There are a lot of people who try to see things that are not really there.

By definition, subliminal means something "below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone’s mind without their being aware of it." So true subliminal messages are not meant to be seen. However, The Federal Trade Commission claims subliminal advertising to be a deceptive and ineffective practice, while multiple studies demonstrated that it has never worked.

So if you see something and consider it a "subliminal" message, it's most likely just your imagination or the intentional attempt of the advertiser to manipulate your emotions so that you associate their product with something that will ultimately make you buy it.

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