Subliminal Messages in Marketing - Fact or Fake

The Latin word sublimis (meaning uplifted) is the root of the word “sublime”. It is not at all related to sub-limen (meaning below the threshold). Subliminal messages are very much prevalent in the world of advertising. These are messages which are presented below the threshold of human understanding. The chances of they being understood by humans is lesser than 25%. The technique is to give inputs below the threshold of conscious perception. To illustrate, consider a advertisement that flashes in front of you on TV or cinema, but is so short and fast that your conscious mind does not acknowledge it.

Nevertheless, the message does get registered below your level of conscious and thus becomes an input for you to act on. This is easy to practice in cinema halls. Let me explain. It is possible to insert a single frame in twenty four. Suppose the message “You are Hungry” is flashed a hundred times in short periods of rime. This could stimulate your hunger and make you buy something to eat. Critics say that any kind of message can be induced in this manner, which may lead to violent and criminal tendencies in people to rise. But there is no proof to prove if this principle is true.

Yes, subliminal messages are not a fiction, they are real and existent. But the issue is : How often do we encounter them? A study involving advertising executives has found that, agencies practicing subliminal messages are very few in number. Advertisements, by themselves, are very strong means to influence our brains. Hence, ad-designers will not waste efforts into inserting subliminal messages in their work. Also, if any agency practiced subliminal messages, it will sooner or later be discovered by the media. This will definitely cause a huge dent on the image of the agency. Hence subliminal messaging, although it may exist, is not commercially feasible to be practiced.