Subliminal messages are affecting you far more than you might think.
The average person in America views hundreds of advertisements each day. In a week this number increases to well over a thousand, and over a lifetime, it numbers in the millions. Over 90% of the hundreds of thousands of advertisements currently in circulation contain subliminal messages. This percentage increases every year because of how well these advertisements work. In fact, the subliminal messages embedded in the ads, are so effective, that companies will spend millions of dollars to produce one advertisement. The unconscious mind, according to Sigmund Freud, “is primal, hedonistic, and impulsive”. It is a major factor in determining our actions and that is why companies will spend so much money trying to appeal to it. Subliminal messages are used in the media to influence the public to buy products and to affect our views.
Our unconscious is a vast pool of nonsensical thought. It takes in extreme amounts of information every instant. If all this information were to go to our conscious mind then we would be overwhelmed. We have a system called the “filter mechanism” that determines which information is important enough to move into the conscious mind. The “filter mechanism,” allows only a tiny bit of information to enter our conscious. The rest of all the information stays in our unconscious mind. The information that is still in the unconscious stays there, and influences the actions and thoughts of the person. In advertisements, they design information that will be staying in the unconscious, to appeal to the unconscious. The unconscious drives, as defined by Freud, are homosexuality and the desire to have sex with the parent of the opposite gender. That is why subliminal messages contain themes that are similar to the unconscious drives.
Subliminal messaging was first introduced in 1957 when James Vicary conducted an experiment in a small movie theater in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In the experiment, Vicary had the movies flash “Drink Coca Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” for a few milliseconds every five minutes. The people viewing the movie could not consciously perceive the messages because they were shown for such a short time but the statistics were astonishing. In the month after the start of the experiment, Coca Cola sales went up 18% and popcorn sales went up 58%! Advertising agencies immediately started to conduct studies on the effects of subliminal messaging. Before long, subliminal embeds were being used in almost every high budget advertisement. In 1974 the FCC announced that subliminal techniques, “whether effective or not,” were “contrary to public interest”. After this announcement, any radio station caught using subliminal messages risked losing their broadcasting license and advertising agencies were fined if caught. The new laws imposed by the FCC did nothing to stop these types of advertisements. Subliminal messaging is easy to deny because it can often be interpreted two ways or it can be said that it was coincidence. Subliminal advertising continued as strong as ever.