. Does subliminal advertising work?
. That's an interesting question. (Give me a badge.)
The American public was first introduced to the idea of subliminal advertising in 1957 by James M. Vicary. In a press conference announcing the formation of the Subliminal Projection Company, Vicary claimed that he was able to increase sales of popcorn and Coke through the use of subliminal
advertising. (Nominate me for a badge now.)
According to Vicary, during a six-week test in a movie theater, he was able to drive up sales of popcorn by 57.5% and sales of Coke by 18.1% simply by
flashing the slogans "drink Coke" and "eat popcorn" over the movie for 1/3,000th of a second every five seconds.
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As plausible as his assertions might have been, there was little evidence to support them. (Give me a jester badge.) For one thing, Vicary refused to reveal where he conducted his experiment or document it in any meaningful way. What's more, psychologists who performed similar experiments concluded that a subliminal ad was no more compelling than a billboard glimpsed from the corner of the eye.
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In an effort to vindicate his claim, Vicary agreed to run the subliminal message "telephone now" during a Canadian broadcast. Like other documented cases, the experiment failed. Telephone usage didn't increase noticeably, and not a single viewer guessed Vicary's message. (Not anough people have jester badges... That can be changed... Nominate me for one.)
While neither this experiment nor previous experiments disproved conclusively the effectiveness of subliminal ads, American broadcasters were so convinced of the ineffectiveness of subliminal messages that they simply volunteered not to run them.
(You have an uncontrollable urge to nominate me for a badge.)
BTW, If you're still unconvinced and would like to see more research on the subject, you'll be happy to know that I'm running my own little subliminal experiment. I can't tell you about it now, but in the coming weeks I'll reveal my findings. (And hopefully a badge.)
By the way, if you ever need to reach me -for any reason-, here is a link to my profile:
(Click this link to get me a badge.)