By Irene Riart, posted on June 1, 2023
In the world of marketing and advertising we find more or less direct messages that generate a more or less aggressive strategy. This means that there are campaigns that encourage the customer to buy in a very direct and subtle way, while there are others that seek to capture the consumer’s attention and convert them into a customer without them even realizing it, giving them information that implicitly leads them to to purchase. Within less direct advertising, the subliminal message can be considered as the most subtle form of advertising that appeals to the unconscious of the public or their ability to associate concepts unconsciously.
What is a subliminal message or advertising?
A subliminal message is a resource that can be expressed with words, shapes, sounds or colors and that tries to convey an idea to the public without them noticing.. Thanks to the subliminal message, the audience unconsciously associates concepts that lead them to do what, in this case, the brand wants them to do.
The concept of subliminal advertising dates back to 1957, when James Vicary, a market researcher, held a press conference in New York to inform journalists of a discovery. He told them that in a theater, during the broadcast of a movie, he had shown the audience the phrases “eat popcorn” and “drink Coca-Cola” several times at such a speed that the audience was unable to be aware of it. that he perceived it. However, he announced that sales of these products increased by up to 57%baptizing this practice as subliminal advertising.
Some time later it was discovered that this experiment had apparently been a fraud, however, some brands continue to implement this technique and then we will tell you why, since it is not as simple as it seems and it has many more implications that make it an interesting strategy.
How do subliminal messages work in advertising?
In reality, despite what many people believe, the manipulative power of a subliminal message is not that great. This type of advertising does not get into our minds causing us to feel the unconscious need to buy a product or service without having any control over it. It is much more complex than all this.
Subliminal advertising uses symbolic resources that can be interpreted by the audience in a very different way.. Not all of us have the same experiences and, therefore, we do not give the same meaning to the same stimulus, so a subliminal message can mean one thing for one person, and another for another.
Yes, it is true that the purpose of subliminal advertising messages is for us to buy, but in that decision also influences the mood of the consumer, as well as the predisposition that they already have to buy or not. A subliminal message does not work miracles or is all-powerful, but it can increase the chances of success.
Despite this, in countries like Spain, subliminal advertising is considered illegal by the General Advertising Law and there are already more than 50 who have legislated against it. And this why?
Scientifically, the real influence that a subliminal message has on human behavior is not very clear, although there are studies that show that people can perceive the emotional value of these. Despite the doubt, the potential for this advertising to manipulate and mislead people is what has led many countries to ban or regulate it.
3 examples of subliminal messages in advertising
Even though there are many countries that ban subliminal advertising, we can still see examples of this controversial technique. This occurs because, many times, it is done covertly or in such a subtle way that sometimes it is impossible to determine if it borders on the legal or the illegal.
Disney’s desire to engulf film franchises is a fact. Although this image may be pure speculation, it is possible that Disney wants to inadvertently show us its power and supremacy with this type of subliminal message to increase its brand awareness. What do you think?
It is true when it is said that in The Simpsons you can find examples of everything, including subliminal advertising. In one of the chapters we can see how Lisa is watching an ad that uses a subliminal message of a text type in which the order of the letters of a sentence is reversed so that the receiver is not able to understand it, but supposedly his unconscious does.
In A study The participants were divided into two groups. The first of them was presented with the website of a sofa shop with a background of clouds, and the other with a background of coins. The result was that the first group had the comfort of the sofas as their main choice criterion, while the second gave more importance to the price. What is interesting is that, when asked for the reasons for their choice, none related their criteria to the background of the web. This leads us to think that this It was not consciously processed, but it did affect the purchase decision.
Are subliminal messages effective in advertising?
As we have seen throughout this article, there are several studies that support the persuasive effect that subliminal advertising has on the consumer. However, many experts also affirm that their power is conditioned by many factors that the public “brings from home”, such as the state of mind, prejudices and even the age of the person, among others.
In conclusion, it is believed that a subliminal message can work, but it works best when the person is already predisposed and there is a desire to buy, so these ads would enhance such a desire. According to Ian Zimmerman, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, “If we’re not experiencing any kind of urge that connects to the subliminal message, it probably won’t be effective.”