Subliminal Messaging


Published on

Lee Pippin, "Media" project, AP GoPo, February 2010, Milner 9.05AM Class.

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Subliminal Messaging

  1. 1. By Lee Pippin<br />Subliminal Messaging<br />Media’sbiggestsecretxoahtseggibs’aideM<br />
  2. 2. What is Subliminal Messaging?<br />Subliminal stimuli (English pronunciation: /sʌbˈlɪmənl/), literally &quot;below threshold&quot;, are any sensory stimulation below an individual&apos;s absolute threshold for conscious perception. <br />Introduced in 1897, the concept became controversial as subliminal messages in 1957 when marketing practitioners claimed its potential use in persuasion.<br />
  3. 3. Types of Subliminal Messaging<br />Visual stimuli may be quickly flashed before an individual may process them, or flashed and then masked, thereby interrupting the processing. <br />Audio stimuli may be played below audible volumes, similarly masked by other stimuli, or recorded backwards in a process called backmasking.. <br />
  4. 4. Why do people believe it?<br />The first mass media attention given to subliminal messaging was in regards to a relatively well known and oft-referred to experiment called the “Vicary Movie Experiment”, wherein a scientist (James Vicary) supposedly notably increased sales of popcorn and Coca-cola by flashing subliminal suggestions (“Hungry? Eat Popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola”) across a movie scene.<br />
  5. 5. What’s the problem?<br />He was unable to ever recreate the experiment, despite numerous attempts, and eventually publically admitted that the whole thing was a fraudand that he had tampered with the results.<br />…Unfortunately, at that point, no one was paying any attention to him anymore…so, as a result, the media didn’t cover it widely, and a lot of people still consider it to be true.<br />In fact, a few psychology books still used in classes today actually cite the experiment as being valid. <br />
  6. 6. What’s the point?<br />Wikipedia described the conclusion relatively well:<br />“Subsequent scientific research, however, has been unable to replicate most of these marketing claims beyond a mere placebo effect.”<br />
  7. 7. But here’s the thing…<br />People still use it.<br />That’s what’s interesting.<br />Even though it’s not been proven or disproven, advertisers and media practitioners (such as campaign ad designers) still have a habit of tipping their hats to it, maybe as a “just in case” sort of deal, and in some ways, it makes sense.<br />
  8. 8. The main problem with subliminal messaging is that, to put it simply, we don’t understand it well enough to make it work for us, mostly because we don’t understand the brain well enough to manipulate it efficiently. <br /> (Supposedly. Unless you’re one of those that favors the conspiracy-theorist-take on the whole issue. In which case we’re all being brainwashed, all the time. Good luck with that.)<br />
  9. 9. How can it be used effectively?<br />One way is to make something seem not quite right…<br /> It’s what causes that feeling that something’s off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it—and it causes you to linger on the ad just a little bit longer, pay a bit more attention to the image, giving the ad more time to do its work.<br /> In other words: giving a woman three legs, or taking off a finger or two—something barely noticeable, usually a visual paradox.<br />Unfortunately I was unable to find visual representation of this technique as it seems to have fallen out of practice in the more later years of photoshopped photography over illustrated advertisements.<br />
  10. 10. Instead, the latest trend seems to be mocking the idea of subliminal advertising in general.<br />… or, if the conspiracy theorists are right, the advertisers are just getting better at hiding their schemes.<br />…Most of the examples of “actual” subliminal advertising I found were vague and ambiguous at best, usually sexual and somewhat explicit in nature, but requiring a great deal of mental suggestion and stretching just to see the images in question. <br />(I have not included visual representation of these examples due to their unanimously explicit nature. If you want to see them, just google “subliminal messaging in advertising/disney/media”—there’s literally thousands of them out their, all armed with bad youtube videos and MS Paint productions.)<br />
  11. 11. Can you spot it?<br />This is an example of today’s most commonly cited form of “subliminal” messaging, although technically it’s not subliminal at all, along with many of the other examples supposedly “found” and cited on the internet, for the simple reason that they’re actually readily visible and notable to the viewer.<br />True Subliminal messaging cannot be perceived without aid, such as slowing down a film to go through it frame by frame.<br />
  12. 12. Presenting:Mockery in Advertising<br />
  13. 13.
  14. 14.
  15. 15. In this Ad campaign, KFC actually challenged its customers/<br />viewers to find the so-called “subliminal image”, and those who did would receive a free sandwich.<br />
  16. 16. Sometimes it can be used to convey an idea, however…this can be found often in artwork, and isn’t so much meant to manipulate the viewer’s way of thinking as it is to suggest something.<br />When used like this, it is often much more effective, and is also notably less harmful to the viewer. <br />
  17. 17. For example, take a close look at this image…<br />
  18. 18. At first glance, it looks like your average family portrait…but upon closer inspection, you should notice the subtle tension present.<br />Child is almost forcibly held,<br />and does not react or interact<br />positively with/to the embrace.<br />Tightly gripped arm,<br />Shoulders of woman <br />crushed by force.<br />Expression of child is distant <br />And unhappy.<br />
  19. 19. What’s it all mean?<br />Simple. The previous image is from a movie poster advertising the film “Kramer vs. Kramer”, a dramatic tale about a family torn apart by divorce, and the ensuing custody battle. <br />Thanks to subtleties, the keen eye can discern the gist of that without words—just enough to perhaps piqué a viewer’s interest.<br />(this is a possible example of the whole not-quite-right technique)<br />Unfortunately, I’m not clever enough to lay claim to this discovery or example.<br />Credit for image/meaning dissection goes to<br />
  20. 20. Sources:<br />“S-E-X” movie posters (<br />Sublymonal messaging ( and<br />Oldspice “Keep it Clean” ad (:<br />KFC Snacker Ad Campaign ( and )<br />Kramer vs. Kramer poster example/dissection (<br />Plot synopsis of Kramer vs. Kramer devised from Wikipedia ( )<br />Various information regarding the Vicary Movie Experiment hoax and other subliminal techniques (<br />