at you buy? I can almost guarantee that subliminal advertising had something to do with your decision making.
Subliminal advertising is a form of advertising that persuades you into buying a product
without you even realizing it (Packard 18). It is a very powerful, effective, and
commonly used form of advertising.
How do advertisers know what to use in order to trigger your subconscious? The
techniques used for probing or triggering the subconscious were dervied straight from the
clinics of psychiatry. One of the most widely used techniques for probing in depth is
called the “depth interview.” These depth interviews are conducted very much as the
psychiatrist conducts his or her interviews, except that there is no couch since a couch
might make the chosen consumer tired (Dr. Smith 31). The psychiatrist, or other expert
doing the probing, tries to get the consumer into absent-mindedly talking about all the
“pleasures, joys, enthusiams, agonies, nightmares, deceptions, and apprehensions the
product recalls to them (Dr. Smith 32). Much of the depth probing by marketers is done
with disguised or indirect tests. When they test the person, they are given the impression
that he or she is being tested for some other reason than the real one. Another widely
used test is the ink-blot test developed by a Swiss psychiatrist Herman Rorschach
(Packard 33). During this test a consumer is shown a series of ink blots that represent
nothing inparticular. The subject sees in the picture what he needs to see and this
projects himself into his anxieties, inadequacies, and conflicts (Packard 33). Another test
being given is called the Szondi test. The consumer being probed is shown pictures of
different people. The psychiatrist then tells the consumer which person has which
problem. The subject then must choose which person he or she would want to sit near.
Mostly the subject chooses the person suffering from the same emotional state that
effects himself midly (Dr. Smith 33).
Hypnosis is being used in attempts to probe our subconscious to find why we buy
or do not buy certain products. Agencies fine that hypnosis sharpens our power to recall
and rember things we couldn’t otherwise remeber. A man once placed under hypnosis
told why he bought a certain car and was able to report word for word an ad he had read
more than twenty years before that had struck his fancy (Bower 72). Television
announcers are sometimes trained in hypnotism. This way, when they speak their voice
will have a deeper impact.
Just recently, certain United States advertisers were experimenting with
superthreshold effects in seeking to isinuate sales messages to people past their conscious
guard. A movie theater in New Jersey was reportedly flashing icecream ads onto the
screen during the film (Bower 73). As a relsut of this, icecream sales soared sky high.
That’s not the only trick movie theaters use to get you to buy their products. There is
another technique called subthreshold stimulation, which is when a person is exposed to
oders or sound that are just outside the range of conscious awarness (Packard 38). When
ever you go into a movie theater, before the movie has started they show previews. The
previews can include anything from trivia questions to movie clips. Right before the
movie starts the screen will show a picture of popcorn and a soda. They will usually
have the sound of the soda fizzing and the smell of popcorn lurks inside the theater. Thsi
will trick you into thinking that you want soda and a popcorn.
The movie theater isn’t the only place you can find in subliminal advertising, the
supermarket is filled with hundreds of little tricks or suggestions to lure you. When ever
you go inside a store did you ever wonder why the basic products such as mild and bread
are always in the back of the store? The reason for this is to make you walk through the
aisles of the store. As you’re walking through the aisles the advertisers will have sale
items that will be to good to pass up. Before you know it, your at the check out line with
twenty items when all you really needed was a gallon of milk.
Depending on what time of day you enter the supermarket there will be different
types of music. In general, the music is never upbeat or fast moving, for that will make
the shopper more excitable and quicker moving. Instead they play slower and quiter
music which slows the customers down causing them to shop longer and buy more items
on their way. From the morning to mid-afternoon the supermarket will play mostly love
songs because the majority of customers shopping at the time are house wives. As they’re
walking through the aisles listening to this music it starts making them think of their
loved ones and what they need from the supermarket causing them to buy more food.
For example, a woman may be walking down the meat aisle, not a very romantic place to
be, but all of a sudden Michael Bolton comes on singing “When a Man Loves a Woman”
and your subconscious is triggered. The woman then thinks to herself about how much
her husband likes steak and mabye tonight as a treat she’ll buy that steak for him and
cook it for supper. During the evening, the music type is classic rock because the
customers shopping at the time are the people coming home from work. The music may
contain some oldies reminding them of when they were younger and what they used to
look like. Instead of buying the cheaper brand of regular cookies, they might buy the
more expensive fat free cookies. It also might persuade them to buy cosmetic products
which are very expensive.
The supermarket not only plays tricks on adults buy they also target children. If
you walk down the cereal aisle you’ll notice that the frosted, more expensive, toy-
containing cereals are placed at kids eye level. When the kids walk down the aisle they
will see the cereal and beg their parents to buy it.
Commercials are always using subliminal advertising. What program you are
watching and at what point of the program you are watching will depend on what
commercial is going to play. For example, if a cartoon program is on then mostly toy
comercials will be shown or commercials targeted towards a younger audience.
Advertisers decied what time to run the program depending at what level of interest you
are at. While watching a television program, you go through different levels of interest
(Packard 41). The first level of interest is the conscious, rational level, where people
know what’s going on and are able to tell why. The second level is where a person may
know in a vague way what is going on within his own feelings, sensations, and attitudes,
but would not be willing to tell why. The third and final stage is where we are not only
unaware of our true attitudes and feelings, but would not discuss them if we could
The advertisers capability to control what we buy is phenominal. We are
constantly being tricked without even knowing it. It makes you think after a while who’s
really doing the shopping, you or the advertising agencies? Over 85% of our purchasing
of different products has something to do with some form of subliminal advertising
(Bower 74). If advertisers can control what we buy what else can they program us to do?
Overall, subliminal advertising can be a very powerful, pursuasive, and effective
way of advertising. Many companies use it often to make you buy their products.
Subliminal advertising is everywhere, in commercials, movies, newspapers, magazines,
t.v. programs, stores, and even on the radio. The next time you go to purchase something
ask yourself, “Why am I really buying this?”