Thursday, October 7, 2010

Subliminal Messaging

Subliminal messages are messages hidden within a picture and created to be overlooked by the conscious mind. The subconscious mind, however, is where the message is targeted. These messages can affect one's thoughts or actions, thus influencing the viewer. Subliminal messages ties in with perception and selective attention. Selective attention is when one focuses on certain objects while filtering out others. Reasons that our minds can miss the subliminal messages in films and pictures, is that there is too much incoming stimulation at our retinas, that makes it difficult to perceive. Our eye movements only take in certain parts of a scene, again making subliminal messages hard to find.

Subliminal messages are in everyday images. Products, such as soda, cigarettes, movies and television shows use subliminal messages. There are even subliminal messages in songs. Certain songs, when played backwards, can reveal hidden messages and sayings. One famous subliminal message was found in Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven. Other songs by The Beatles, Brittney Spears and Queen also contain subliminal messages. They can often be difficult to understand, which arises for controversy. Subliminal messages in pictures, however, can often be blatant, that the need for debate is unnecessary. Many of these messages pertain to sex or sexual novalties. Even Disney has used sexual subliminal messages. Known messages can be seen in their movies, such as , The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Subliminal messages do not always endorse sex, yet rather try to keep a logo embedded into the viewer's mind. Many companies will have their products featured in movies, such as a FedEx truck passing by, or an Apple computer being used. By doing this, a potential consumer could be created. Subliminal messaging originated in 1957, in Vance Packard's book, The Hidden Persuaders. This genre of messaging was used to induce the consumer market, post war (Snopes, 2007). They were meant to play on an audience's guilt, hope, fear and sexuality, in order to cause one to buy products that they did not necessarily need (Snopes, 2007). Subliminal messaging is a widely used and effective technique for marketers, however, its ethics in doing so rises for debate. Here a few websites that show images of subliminal messages.

Snopes. (January 25, 2007). Subliminal advertising. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed your post. I did a powerpoint similar to your presentation on the subliminal messages within Disney movies. I was shocked to find out, however, that these messages revolve around us daily. I do notice how other successful franchise companies have their product appear in movies and commercials to intentionally persuade you to look into their product. I remember how in Monsters INC (Pixar animated movie) Nemo and the Jessy from Toy Story 2 appear in Boo's room towards on of the last scenes. I realize it now because back then when the movie was released neither of those characters were even brought into light yet. Looks like Disney knows more than they let out to seem.