Subliminal Messages in Advertising

2 February 2017

Subliminal Messages in Advertising Revision Evelyn J Hoover English 1102 Sec. 06 Debbie Brooks June 29, 2011 Subliminal Messages in Advertising The purpose of advertising is to market products and entice people to purchase what others are selling. According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1974) the definition of advertise is, “1: inform, notify, 2: to call public attention to esp. (especially) in order to sell” (p. 29).

Advertising has been around for many centuries and dates back to the ancient Romans. Ads at that time were nothing like they are today. Their ads were transcribed on walls.Unlike ours that are on televisions, magazines, billboards, and newspapers, to name a few. I read an essay that gave examples of print advertising. There were ads for cars, cigarettes, alcohol beverages, and many more. Some of the pictures in the ads were provocative.

The pictures and print messages told a story and that got me thinking. What message was the company was trying to send their consumer demographic? The ads look as though they contain subliminal messages.

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Subliminal messages are suggestions that are processed by the subconscious mind without the conscious mind realizing it.This leads me to my next question. Do we have control of our decisions or do subliminal messages in advertising get into our subconscious and contribute to our decision-making? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1974) defines Subliminal as, “existing or functioning outside the area of conscious awareness” (p. 681). We are unaware how the messages are conveyed to us.

They are usually hidden in pictures or flashed so quickly across a TV screen our conscious mind cannot even see them. A 1950’s print advertisement for Ballantine Ale is a great example.It shows four women and two men flirting and having drinks. One of the women is tilting her head back laughing, with a drink in her hand, as though she is going to pour it down the front of her. Another woman is sitting on her crossed leg and the bottom of her shoe is in the shape of a penis near her behind. Then there is a man in another room peeping through a small window at them like a peeping tom. The ad reads, American is returning to the genuine – in foods, fashions, and tastes.

Today’s trend to Ballantine lite Ale fits right into this modern picture.In all the world, no other beverage brewed has such extra excellence brewed into it. And “Brewers Gold” is one big reason for Ballantine Ale’s deep, rich, genuine flavor. They all ask for ale Ballantine Light Ale! (Christensen, 2010, p. 571). The average person might not read into this ad as I did. However, I did research and conclude there is a sexual innuendo contained in this ad.

The purpose is to entice us to believe this is a good product and will satisfy a need. There have been controversies about subliminal advertising throughout the years.I remember when kids flocked to stores to buy the record, “Another One Bites the Dust,” by Queen. The story was that if someone played the record backwards it would say, “It’s fun to smoke marijuana. ” I never went out and bought the album but I did listen to it on youtube and that is what it said. In 1957 a market researcher, James Vicary, performed the first large scale investigation on the use of subliminal messages. Zimbio.

com (2008) states it lasted six weeks and was performed on 45,000 people without their knowledge. During a movie he flashed, “Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coke” every five seconds.It was played at 3/1000’s of a second, too fast for the human eye to recognize. The results were compared to the previous six weeks of sales. It showed sales in “Coke rose 18. 1% and popcorn sales went up 57%” (realsubliminal, 2008). There are other examples as well to support my findings.

Some might have heard that Walt Disney has used subliminal messages for years. In the movie, Lion King the word SEX appears in a cloud of dust. Another example is an ad for a fast food company. It is a picture of a chicken sandwich and in the lettuce is a dollar bill. We are a society of consumers.According to an eBook on marketing (2010), Raymond and Tanner suggest companies target the needs of people. People need to feel safe, secure, and loved.

Using messages that include words related to sex, hunger, and well-being among others, entices us to buy products because by doing so it satisfies our need to have these things. Companies that use these and other subliminal messages in their advertising expect their sales to increase. Should the use of subliminal messages be against the law? That has also been a hot topic, and in some parts of the world it is.However, not here in the United States. In conclusion, I have one final question; does the use of subliminal messages in advertising really work to entice us? There have been many studies about the effectiveness of subliminal messages in advertising and many findings. Some say it is just a ploy, in which companies leak information of their subliminal messages so people will study the claim and the company will get cheap advertisement. Some say it always works.

Others say subliminal messages in advertising work on certain people, places, and times.

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