Subliminal Ads

     A collective term for public announcements designed to promote the sale of
specific commodities or services while being integrated below the threshold of
perception or awareness. To sell products, merchants consciously use subliminal
advertising as a basis for general consumerism. This seems like an unnecessary
task, but when taken into consideration all the people, who have expressed their
disbelief in its effectiveness, it is obvious to see how vital and necessary
such a task commands. Through this, corporations must take on new strategies and
methods of persuasion and justification. The importance is that advertisers rely
on a trust relationship with consumers in order to successfully subliminally
sell products. In other words, those who don't believe in subliminal
advertising, are its likely victims. The effect of subliminal advertising on the
individual and the culture has been influenced and promoted by many different
elements. Let it be magazines, newspapers or radio; but the most prominent in
this field is television. Television advertising influences the choices we make,
perhaps more so than anyone cares to believe. It may not be so obvious, but even
teachers face competition with advertising. Television stations, for example,
have some four billion dollars a year from industry to spend on programming for
the same students that teacher`s face. Nicholas Johnson, a former Federal

Communications Commission Commissioner from 1966 to 1973 writes that television
is diametrically opposed to almost everything a teacher tries to do: TV tells
them that the only thing necessary to give them all the joys in life and the
values that are important is the acquisition of yet another product. TV is
telling them to sit still and don't think. TV is telling them that they are to
be treated as a mass. He writes that it is extremely important to understand
this force in our society if a teacher is to deal with it. He writes the most
important thing to know is that advertising is a business. Johnson continues: It
is the business of selling. But what it is in the business of selling is you and
your students. You are the product being sold. Who are you being sold to? You're
being sold to an advertiser. It is the advertiser who is the consumer in this
equation. The advertiser is buying you. The advertiser is buying you from the
broadcaster. And why the advertiser is buying you is because he wants you to
look at his message; his billboard, his magazine ad, and in this instance, his

TV commercial. But in any study of advertising and advertising effects it is
difficult to agree on what are clearly examples of advertising and what are
clearly not. This is more difficult to do than it seems. Television is an
excellent example of why this is so difficult in their attempt to influence
purchasing decisions. He writes that the sole purpose of the television programs
between the commercials is to act as an attention getting device. The scripts
are written to build tension before the commercial to hold the viewer's
attention during the commercial. He writes that once they have that attention,
... what is the advertiser trying to sell you? Products? No. He's trying to sell
you a religion. What is it? It's the philosophy known as materialism. If you
watch television closely, you'll see that there's no real difference between the
programs and the commercials. Indeed, if you turn on a television set you often
can't tell what it is that you've just turned on. Is it a commercial or a
program? Suppose you tune into a Hawaiian beach scene. All right, there's a big
hotel in the background and palm trees and there's this brand new car on the
beach and this couple strolling across the beach. Now you don't know whether
that's going to turn out to be a scene of one of these cops-and-robbers programs
or whether it's a commercial. It is even more important to note, however, that
you don't know what it's going to be a commercial for. That's because every
commercial is a commercial for all products. Most of us are aware of the huge
amount of sophisticated research generated by the advertising industry to refine
its persuasion techniques. We even feel comfortable admidst our
advertisement-plagued society. Although subliminal advertising may be effective,
the most difficult factor is relaying the message to possible consumers. Such
advertising techniques include flash messaging, buzz words, celebrity
endorsements, emotion targeting, fear and the oh-so common bandwagon method.

Flash messaging is a common technique where a viewer is influenced by quick
images and messages for a very short period of time. The subconscious registers
this almost like it never occurred. All of this is pleasing to the eye; flashy
colour, or a picture with a sexual innuendo. Another factor would be KISS (Keep

It Sweet & Simple). All of these affect the success of the ad and the final
result for the product at hand. A more cunning way to influence the buyer is to
target your emotions. To question yourself is most successful for an advertiser.

Although seeing sick hungry children living in a run down village in some 3rd
world country may lead to your donating money, there are some ethics involved in
purposely tampering with one`s emotions. Through all of this, this method of
persuasion is most effective. A technique usually described as using buzz words
is found more in prints than on television or radio. If we are scrolling through
a newspaper and we see an exciting flashy word, our eyes tend to draw towards
it. Companies are entirely aware of this, so that is why they flash words on
their ads like, "FREE," "NEW," "HURRY." Something
about these words makes the reader want to see what the fuss is all about, and
to read the company's ad. Not always will there be "buzz words"
embedded into the ad that look flashy. They may not have any significant
meaning, but they are added in and seem successful in relaying the message.

Words like, homemade, improved, 100%, tasty, and the list goes on Endorsements
by celebrities have through the years lost their edge and have mostly looked
down upon the endorser. Michael Jordan is selling you Gatorade, Jerry Seinfeld
is backing up American Express, and Paul Reiser wants you to use AT&T. The
purpose is to subliminally give the product traits that it never even deserves,
like wealth, fame, and success. When Michael Jordan is seen drinking Gatorade
and then going for a 360-slam dunk, the company wants you to think that you as
well are capable of the same feats. Besides the less obvious, there is simply
the fact that a company wants a famous celebrity to present a product, rather
than some common person. "Everybody else is doing it, so why aren't
you?" Using the bandwagon technique for many already established
corporations has been quite successful. Companies that have already achieved
marvelous success will start using advertisements, suggesting it is second
nature to buy the product. As if it had such a high demand rate that without it,
life would be dysfunctional. For instance, the new saying from McDonald's is,
"Did somebody say McDonald's?¦ There is so much behind that quote
than what it actually says. It gives you the idea that they are the best, the
tastiest, and the most popular, without really even telling you without being up
front about it. McDonald's knows that they are successful, so they do not need
some cheap gimmick to sell their food, all they have to do is be there, and the
people will flock. The Fear technique, where they inform the consumer that not
purchasing a certain product will be disastrous on your own self. This technique
targets the most primitive emotion; fear. Mostly used on people that are
uncomfortable with their self, insecure and believe that they need some personal
improving. The most known method would be the BEFORE/AFTER scene, where there is
a comparison between an obviously terrible picture and a beautified picture. As

Nicholas Johnson indicated, TV sells the great religion known as materialism
(p.157). In the media, product acquisition and consumption equate to good
health, success, exultation, enchantment, moral righteousness, ethical
certainty, trust, faith, superiority, coolness, freedom, liberty, self-esteem,
confidence, democracy, etc; quite simply, the most any human could ever hope to
attain and more. And ownership is only part of the equation˜consumption of
the product counts more; and, the acquisition of the product counts even more
manifestly. In fact, to attain an even greater sense of good health, success,
high standards, moral righteousness, ethical certainty, coolness, self-esteem,
confidence, fulfillment, meaning, and absolute purposefulness in life. A person
needs only to borrow the money or charge the purchase+ The subliminal
advertising effect is probably the most difficult aspect of any study of
advertising. The extent of this influence probably cannot be measured. Many
components can be analyzed to discover possible effects on human attitudes and
behavior, but none can be for certain. We need to divide the concept advertising
into small parts or components in order to analyze that effect. Possible narrow
components include: non-verbal communication by models in television
commercials, speech tones and its effect in radio commercials, or subliminal
words and/or symbols in magazine advertisements Our way of life involves a lot
more than anyone wants to believe. The need for developing individual awareness
of the power of advertising is increasing, but it seems that what we consciously
perceive of our world is constantly decreasing. The brain has to sort through
the overwhelming amount of sensory input data and consciously acknowledge only
what it deems important or necessary for our immediate survival. Oftentimes our
defense mechanisms even keep us from consciously acknowledging data that is
necessary for our survival such as piercing through to the message conveyed in
subliminal advertising. Even as we are aware of the nature of perceiving,
subliminal symbols and/or words in magazine advertisements are difficult to
recognize when first attempted. Wilson Key has written, "As a culture,

North America might well be described as one enormous, complex, magnificent,
self-service, subliminal massage parlor." In short, the effect that
advertising (whatever this concept might include) has on human buying attitudes
and behavior is of almost incomprehensible complexity.