Your mind is a labyrinth of nerves and receptors. The subconscious is a part of the maze we’ve only begun to explore or understand. It’s the underbelly of your thoughts, the part of your mind which operates without you even knowing about it. Your conscious mind is your awareness to the outside world. Your subconscious mind, on the other hand, is the part of your mind that is responsible for your behavioral and physical functions (like breathing or blinking) that you don’t have to think about manually.
The brain is the most powerful computer known to man, but also one of the most fragile. If you can tap into the subconscious section of the mind, you can drastically influence the conscious, and advertisers know this fact all too well. Thanks to the power of subliminal messaging, advertisers can make you see and feel things without you having the faintest clue your subconscious has been infiltrated.
This method of advertising was first founded in 1957 during the screening of the movie “The Picnic”. A Coca-Cola marketer named James McDonald Vicary spliced in the messages “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” for 1/300th of a second every 5 seconds into the film, the sales of Coca-Cola increased by 18% and popcorn sales went up an astounding 58%.
In 1958, only a year after this method was first used, subliminal advertising was banned in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and Australia. But this ban didn’t stop advertisers one bit, and looking at the spike in sales of Coke and popcorn it’s easy to see why. This spawned a new form of advertising that’s specifically targeted towards your subconscious that we’re still experiencing to this day.
“Sex sells” isn’t just a phrase that advertisers throw around just to be risqué, it’s an undeniable truth. Attraction is a natural physical stimulus and if you can make your product more attractive by using sexual imagery, then the product becomes more desirable. But being too blatantly sexual can be off putting, especially to the public. That’s where the power of subliminal messaging comes into play.
Feeling a mind controlled by subliminal tactics yet? Well buckle up for this one because this is a whole other level of manipulation- Back in 2003 the US government got a patent for “Nervous system manipulation by electromagnetic fields from monitors”. Here is a summary of what the patent entails- “Computer monitors and TV monitors can be made to emit weak low-frequency electromagnetic fields merely by pulsing the intensity of displayed images. Experiments have shown that the 1/2 Hz sensory resonance can be excited in this manner in a subject near the monitor. The 2.4 Hz sensory resonance can also be excited in this fashion. Hence, a TV monitor or computer monitor can be used to manipulate the nervous system of nearby people.”
In layman's terms, they can and most likely have made you feel however they want about what’s being displayed on the screen by using frequencies you cannot hear. Creepy.
Not all subliminal messaging is used to sell. It is often used to provoke a feeling or perpetuate a story. For example, X-Men perpetuates a metaphor for discrimination of the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) community. As mutants grow into their abilities around puberty, they face opposition when telling their parents, and are generally thought of as outcasts. Another example is in the movie The Exorcist where the demon is never blatantly shown, only small flashes of his face are visible throughout the movie, evoking a more horrifying emotion for the audience.
You know subliminal advertising has worked on you when you feel moved to do something after watching a movie or commercial without even knowing why. Something as simple as wanting to buy a pizza after seeing an image of it on a commercial is an example of subtle subliminal advertising. Movies even include blatant shots of products to whet your subconscious whistle.
With the changes in the way we market today, subconscious advertising is becoming a larger fabric of our marketing mix. Marketing is now dictated by evoking an emotional response; direct “let me show you my products so you can buy them” marketing just doesn’t work as well anymore. The informed consumer doesn’t want to be directly sold which forces retailers to creatively inject their product benefits into their advertising, convincing consumers that buying their product was their idea all along.
As you work on developing a subliminal marketing campaign for your business, make sure you’re partnered with the right marketing firm to help you achieve your goals. XLDesign4U specializes in developing customized design and marketing plans to meet your unique needs. Consider a consultation with one of our team members to develop the most effective subliminal marketing campaign for your business.