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Subliminal Advertising

The marketing strategies of the business world are being established in a way to allure the consumer market. Consumerism has taken its peak in the recent years allowing various organizations to step in with their product or service. There is consistent rise in competition and to have an edge in a particular market, you need to have a stronghold on the communication platform. Your mode of communication determines the rate of influx, of the most important stakeholder that is the customer. The strategy of advertising either below-the-line or above-the-line can help inform the customers about the brand. Advertising is a way of transferring data to every age band or gender making it a suitable manifesto.

Subliminal advertising is technique to improve sales. Subliminal advertising actually convinces a consumer using hidden messages that acts upon the subconscious of the mind. This concept of advertising started in 1950s by a psychologist, James Vicay who flashed some images calling out to the movie watcher, ‘’Hungry? Buy Popcorn!” There was immediate reaction by the viewers and it increased their sales to a 50%. It is considered somewhat deceptive but businesses still have a take on this. The subliminal advertising is deceptive but attractive to the mind of the consumer. Subliminal messages are sometime inaudible to the conscious mind but it delivers a deeper sense of understanding their needs related to that product.

The idea behind subliminal advertising forwards the ability to understand the simpler message and surfacing features rather than going deep into the characteristics of the product or service. This method of persuasion stimulates auto-suggestion and the purpose of hypnosis, inducing relaxation to make the mind incapable of critical response and selection. These subliminal messages can be found in TV programs and movies. They are set in to a frame of constantly appearing pictures creating an illusion of continuous movement. These kind of advertising flashes very quickly so it is difficult for the consumer to properly focus on what is being said. The consumer creates an independent picture in their mind. According to various surveys the subliminal advertising is thought to be counter-productive as it affects the minds to a good extent.

To some professionals the technique of subliminal advertising becomes an ethical concern because this simply means getting on an advertising band wagon that portrays deception and false illusions. For them advertising should be given with the ad at a slow pace so that people get the right idea. Subliminal messages are portrayed in commercial content to attract a big market. The cues presented by business in this kind of advertising seem creative especially for those brands that are famous. It creates an urge to shop for the required product immediately. Most subliminal ads have what the consumer wants to see or what makes them happy. Some are deliberately designed to show that they are too good to be true. There are a lot of well established companies using subliminal advertising in ads and their logos

Types of subliminal advertising include:

  • Sub-visual messages: Visual images that come across the screen in a time frame of a few milliseconds, not allowing people to fully understand the content.
  • Sub-audible messages: There are messages hidden in the loud music that has a low audio track with cues.
  • Back-mashing: It consists of a message that is recorded backwards in hope for the audience to listen it forward to give a new meaning to the disguised clues.

Examples of subliminal messages:

  • KFC used this method in an advertisement of their burger which not only had the name of the snack and its price but it also had a dollar bill as a part of the lettuce inside the bun.
  • Pepsi created an add on Halloween that had a Pepsi can covered by a coca cola superhero cape, it actually wanted the audience to understand that when you go to a shop and instead of Pepsi you get a coke you are quite disappointed.
  • The logo of Amazon has an arrow starting from A and ending on Z in the word, it suggests that Amazon is an everlasting website which is here to stay forever.

Subliminal messages are more influential on people who have wants and are thirsty to get products that appeal their eyes. They don’t control your decision but they strongly guide your opinion on that specific product. They are actually a great help to those people who want to motivate themselves to lose weight, quit smoking, improve any kind of habit or memory. Businesses need this strategy to stay on top of their game and generate sales revenue through increased sales and market share.

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The Fundamental Concept of Positive Reinforcement

Positivity is a cultivating force that sets a route for a human’s behavior to be directed through. When it comes to having a behavioral analysis the most widely applied principle is positive reinforcement. If someone is ignited by a certain behavior then he/ she will continually do it if they want a certain outcome. Reinforcement to a stimulus which is in a positive form will make one person repeat the same thing that made him get what he wanted in the first place. Positive in this relation is not referred to something good but it rather means addition. It is the reward you get that makes up positive reinforcement. Inappropriate behavior disrupts the learning capabilities of an individual. Moreover, it might also make one’s life difficult in the society and among their peers. To get a logical and sustaining outcome you need to create a relationship that makes the other person act well to get a result.

This concept was first described by B.F Skinner in his suggestive theory of Operant Conditioning. He explained all that is mentioned above. If positive reinforcement happens immediately after a behavior its effect will be certain and long lasting. The connection between two people interacting on this basis will be much stronger because of this. Positive reinforcement can be taken as a shaping tool for a person who needs to change himself. This kind of reinforcement can be used on children, teenagers, elderly and often with people who have disorders. If someone acts in the right way, positive reinforcement presents like a motivating force for that person to perform the same thing to get appreciated and have their response strengthened.

Few examples from our daily lives will let grasp the concept very well:

  • If you give a surprise test in your class session and your teacher gave you a bonus of 5 extra points, you will certainly be willing to appear for these kinds of test again for that teacher.
  • You are working as a content writer and at the time of getting your pay, you are informed that you will get an extra bonus with it.
  • After you submit an assignment to your boss and he says, “Good job” or “Great effort” you will certainly feel the positive reinforcement working its way.

Positive reinforcement is not always a good option. People need to understand the need of negative reinforcement in a few situations. For instance if a kid misbehaves and insists his/ her parents to get him a toy and instead of making them realize that they don’t need it or they can’t afford it, parents get them exactly what they want. This is basically reinforcement to that forceful behavior the child is adopting.

Each type of positive reinforcement depends on the individual and the circumstances prevailing:

    Natural reinforcers are the direct results occurring. For example if a girl gives her assignments, performs well in her class will eventually get good grades. Tangible reinforcers involve the provision of a physical reward because of a good action. This is like motivating energy into the other person. Social reinforcers are the kind that is used very often at homes, workplaces or educational institutes. The words of appreciation like, ‘’good try’’ or ‘’well done’’ are an open example for this kind of reinforcement. Token reinforcers let you get certain number of points or rewards in accordance to the actions you perform.

If you want to set positive goals for a particular individual make sure you take the help of positive reinforcement because it is a simple and unique technique. It not only helps the individual who does something but the person who is rewarding that individual will gain the insight of how to deal with him. The physiological needs present in people require this technique constantly to set up a healthy environment. There should be no discrimination between two people or a group of people who do the same action to get a good result because then the positive reinforcement might create rivalry. Moreover, the one who did not get a satisfactory response will never repeat the task that he performed earlier. This kind of reinforcement is associated to everybody’s life; it is an important part of improvement and development.

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Subliminal Messages

What is a Subliminal Message?

Webster’s Dictionary: Subliminal – relating to things that influence your mind in a way that you do not notice

A subliminal message is a visual or auditory message that the conscious brain does not notice, but subconsciously sees or hears. In literal terms, a subliminal message is a message below the threshold of conscious awareness. These messages can influence our behavior, sometimes fairly rapidly, and sometimes it requires time and conditioning for these subliminal messages to impact our actions.

Subliminal Messages Below The Threshold

Subliminal messages are understood below the normal awareness of the conscious mind. For example, have you ever thought you “heard” your phone ringing or a knock at the front door while listening to loud music only to have a “feeling” that made you turn down the music and find out the phone is really ringing or someone is at the door? Then you have experienced a subliminal message. While the loud music kept the conscious mind from hearing the knock at the door or the phone ringing, this stimuli sound was still received just below the threshold of conscious perception in the subliminal (below conscious). This caused the subconscious mind to influence your actions to turn down the music so you could consciously hear the knock at the door.

Other subliminal messages could me visual as well. Have you ever bought a new car in a certain color, then start seeing this car everywhere? This is a form of subliminal messaging influencing your awareness. The car with that color was always prevalent around you, but you did not consciously recognize them. Once your mind linked your desire for your car and color to your conscious mind, your subconscious was fast to start becoming aware of all of the other cars with that color around you.
While this is a bit of a reverse example, it still demonstrates the “below the conscious threshold” nature of the subliminal stimuli. And when you began to be aware that subliminal stimuli is all around you, you will be able to find these examples much faster.

Do Subliminal Messages Work

“Absolutely,” says Jagdish Sleth, the President of the American Psychological Association’s Division on Consumer Psychology. “The controversy has always been over changing people’s attitudes. That you can’t do! What you can do is trigger a prior attitude or disposition.” – Mind Programming by Eldon Taylor

Subliminal messages are a means to install programming into the subconscious mind to influence conscious behavior. If these messages are in alignment with the desires of the conscious mind, the subconscious mind will tend to accept this programming very fast. If the conscious mind completely rejects the intended programming, it is believed the subconscious will also reject the behavioral influence.

To really understand subliminal messages and if they can work, we need to understand a little on how the conscious and subconscious mind work. From a high level psychological view all humans have the conscious mind, the subconscious mind and the reptilian brain. The conscious mind the “aware” part of the mind that is thinking inside of your mind. Think of a dog… the visual image, sound and smell you think of in your mind of a dog is your aware conscious mind working.

The subconscious mind is the “programmed” aware brain that helps move and navigate through your day without your conscious mind needing to focus on all of the available stimuli to complete a task. These internal thoughts happen without your conscious awareness and are the patterns you have learned that allow you do something without using your focus. Take walking and talking at the same time. Typically you are using your conscious mind while talking, and your subconscious mind is controlling all of the muscles, balance, and navigation for your walking. It is this subconscious mind that controls your actions without your conscious mind and why athletes practice the same move 100,000’s of times so they don’t have to think to act in a play, they just act.

The reptilian mind is a part of the subconscious mind that regulates breathing, heart rate, basic bodily functions as well as a few basic emotions. Think of it this way, basic survival skills like “Fight, Flight or Freeze” and visual attraction functions are controlled by the Reptilian brain. It is very basic in thought, connected very closely to the subconscious and the Optical nerve goes straight to the Reptilian brain.

While the results of subliminal messages are somewhat hard to measure since our inner beliefs and values systems can reject the subliminal message. If we have neutral or positive feelings towards the stimuli, then the subliminal message can and will work much faster, allowing scientist to positively measure the results. Through this article, we will show numerous examples of subliminal messages and report on some of the studies that have been done.

I will say in my own life, subliminal messages work if they are in alignment with our conscious desires. I wanted to stop smoking for years, but it wasn’t till I started using subliminal messages in background sounds that I easily stopped. I have also used these subliminal messages to help my relationships, business, health & fitness and confidence levels. I truly believe they work. So much so I have started to become very aware of visual subliminal messages in commercials.

Does it always work 100%. No, that has not been proven. However, a recent study has proved that showing the message “Eat Beef” doesn’t actually induce a craving for beef. It does, however, increase general sandwich like consumption. A consumer’s “preference hierarchy” can’t be changed by these methods, however mental road maps and influences can be impacted.

One of the best videos I have ever seen on the effectiveness of subliminal messages is from “Mr. Manifestation on Subliminal Messages and the proof of how well they influence us”.

Another interesting example is that of using subliminal imagery to add “horror” to a scary movie. Subliminal techniques were employed in the film “The Exorcist”. The subliminal messages were apparently effective enough in inciting enough fear and terror that the Warner Brothers was sued in a $350,000 lawsuit for injuries sustained by a viewer when he fainted and broke his jaw shortly after seeing a subliminal death mask. The suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. These subliminal images are common place in movies today.


Subliminal Message Examples

So let’s look at few examples:

In Disney’s “The Beauty And The Beast” skulls of death briefly flash in Gaston’s eyes while he is falling from the tower. It happens too fast to see without going frame by frame.

In the movie “Fight Club” they point out that Tyler splices in a few frames of hardcore sex scenes into children movies. They also add in some subliminal messages they don’t point out like this one.

In the “Manchurine Canidate” we see the 666 of the devil flash across Denzel Washington’s head.

Here is a nice example of a subliminal that can be scene by reading the first letter of each line down. Doesn’t say much for John does it.

In the movie poster blade we have a slight attempt at subliminal messaging to hid the scary vampire face in the clouds.

Do you remember the KFC snacker for only $1 buck? They used subliminal messages with it as well.

Sexual Subliminal Messages In Advertising

Have you ever heard “Sex Sells”? Sex does sell as it is one of the largest motivating factors of our species – to reproduce and keep our genes going. Advertising executives have known this for a very long time, and have used sexual subliminal messages, either hidden or implied, to sell products. It is believed that by tying the emotions and feelings of sex with a product, you will be more likely to buy the product. Here are just a few examples of sexual subliminal messages.

See anything wrong with this old Yellow Pages ad?

If we turn it upside down you may notice the sexual subliminal message.

These are the implied subliminal messages like this one from Burger King. What do you think they are implying?

What do you think the creator was implying with this hair advertisement.


What about this Coca-Cola advertisement?


What about the word sex in these examples?







Of course, sex isn’t always spelled out, sometimes it is implied.


Do you see the penis in his stomach muscles?


What does that remind you of?


What about her mouth, hand and the ketchup bottle.

Lastly, this is an interesting video that is believed to be true, though there is some debate as to which video was actually used in 1960.

Does Subliminal Messaging Really Work?

That really is the big question. There are conflicting reports, however if it didn’t work, advertising & movies would not have used these subliminal messages to influence our behavior for the last 60 years.