On 12 September 1957, at a studio in New York, a marketing executive, James Vicary, who was then working for Mad Men called a media conference. James Vicary shocked the gathered columnists by reporting that he repeatedly flashed the slogans "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Eat popcorn" throughout the film. As a result of this, deals of popcorn had risen 18.1% - and Coke by 57.7%. This, he explained to be- Subliminal Marketing.
Most of you must have come across movies and advertisements with subliminal marketing but only a few of you know that it actually led you to take some actions on it. Subliminal marketing is nothing new in the industry but it has been very effective in the marketing realm. Intriguing right? If you want to know about subliminal marketing, it’s benefits, and look at some of its interesting examples then continue reading this article. We are about to tell you all about subliminal marketing.
This article covers the following:
- What is subliminal marketing?
- Is there a difference between subliminal and subconscious?
- What are the types of subliminal messages?
- How does subliminal marketing work?
- What are the benefits of subliminal marketing?
- What are the disadvantages of subliminal marketing?
- Are there any laws for subliminal marketing?
- What are the tips to ace subliminal marketing?
- What are the top examples of subliminal marketing?
- How can Deskera assist you?
What is Subliminal Marketing?
Subliminal marketing is a form of marketing that uses absolutely intentional messaging, sounds, or visuals to get a specific point across to those viewing the ad. The goal of subliminal marketing is to make your audience walk away from the ad with a specific message in their mind that they didn’t consciously receive from the ad directly.
Recently read this example from Saved By the Bell episode, Zack Morris used subliminal messaging on an audio recording to make his crush, Kelly Kapowski, want to partner with him for an upcoming dance. Zack adds his own voice in the background music for Kelly to listen to, hoping that she’ll get the message.
It’s classic subliminal messaging. Is it sneaky? It can be. Is it subtle, for sure! But not all subliminal marketing is meant to be used for less-than-ideal circumstances, like Zack’s antics.
Much of it is simply to make consumers feel a specific way about the product or service being advertised. After all, it is a business’s job to sell, and subliminal messaging is one way to do it amongst the many.
Subliminal marketing uses words, images, or sounds in television, commercials, music, and digital media–to boost sales of products and services. Subliminal messages may be embedded in an icon, image or briefly flashed at an audience below the level of conscious awareness.
The psychological and marketing research has confirmed that subliminal influence techniques do work in specific contexts. We’ve also learned it’s important to evaluate the impact of subliminal marketing separately from the broad array of subconscious influence triggers.
Subliminal Vs. Subconscious
When we look at the nature of subliminal marketing, there is often confusion about whether subliminal marketing is the same as the subconscious. To clear this confusion, firstly, the answer is no. They are not the same. A message that has an influence on a person’s subconscious is different from a subliminal one.
The term subconscious is used to describe cognitive processing of stimuli that we are not consciously aware of but could become consciously aware of if we directed our attention to those stimuli.
On the other hand, subliminally presented stimuli refer to those stimuli that are presented so quickly that we process them without our conscious knowledge and could not become aware of them, even if we directed our attention to their presentation.
Both supraliminal and subliminal messages can have an influence on the subconscious mind. The only major difference is that supraliminal messages can have both conscious and subconscious influence, while subliminal messages can only have subconscious influence.
Types of Subliminal Messages
In subliminal marketing, there are different types of messages that result in its success. Let’s find out what are these three major types of subliminal messages.
Sub Audible Messaging
Sub-audible messages get inserted into other audio, like a song or an interview recording. These messages are usually much lower volume than the primary audio, making them subtle yet still there.
Although the volume of these messages is too low to consciously hear, the listener’s brain will likely still store them in their subconscious memory, allowing them to pull from that information.
Sub- Visual Messaging
One of the more common types of subliminal messaging is sub-visual messaging, which happens in TV, print, and other visual advertisements. This form of messaging shows subtle visual cues to viewers, like a hidden message within a logo or a small image tucked away within another image. Again, they’re usually so small or quick that you don’t realize you see them, but your brain still stores them.
The only way you would be able to perceive them is if you could pause the video at that exact moment when the message flashes on the screen.
Back masking is used in audio recordings. It features a voice recording played backward on a track or recording that plays forward. Some believe that these backward recordings give listeners subliminal messaging that their brains try to decode. The only way they can hear the message is if they reverse the audio recording.
How Does Subliminal Marketing Work?
Subliminal messaging is the driving force behind subliminal advertising. Essentially, these messages are used in media, be that TV commercials, online advertising, or songs as just a few examples. The messaging is designed to elevate the persuasiveness of the advertisement, or it can even convey a completely different message altogether. Talking about advertising, you might want to learn about Native Advertising a much intriguing topic in advertising.
Even if you are told that an advert is using subliminal messaging tactics, it is not usually possible for a person to discover what the hidden message is. The core reason for this is that ‘true’ subliminal messages are below the threshold of our conscious perception.
The perception of, and the reaction to subliminal messaging all take place at the subconscious level. Just as we breathe in and out without even giving it a moment’s thought, our subconscious mind is always working away in the background. Subliminal marketing is only ever intended to appeal to our subconscious mind by using external stimuli in order to trigger reactions.
The seven categories of sensory stimuli are taste, touch, hearing, sight, smell, movement, and bodily awareness.
Benefits of Subliminal Marketing
If so many companies big or small are using subliminal marketing, there has to be some major benefits that you are probably missing out on. Let's look at these benefits!
Engages the Audience
This is the benefit that all types of marketing look for - Engagement. With subliminal marketing, you enjoy maximum engagement from your audience. Considering subliminal marketing controls a part of psychology, such a thing generates a spark of emotion. It can get a few advertisers in trouble, depending upon the laws of the region, but marketers may use it for a greater sale rate.
Above all, subliminal marketing can help marketers save a penny. With such a low cost and requirement or single exposure alone, the height of the sales reaches the target. You might have unknowingly come across a subliminal ad through music, specific product appearance, tradition, and local brand.
Have you ever noticed slow-running music with a light tune being played in a shopping mall? If so, there’s a reason for it. In an environment surrounded by such tunes, people naturally like it and are more likely to get slow shopping for what they need, which then ends up in them buying more items.
The same kind of technique is used in nightclubs, whereby loud and energetic music plays a key role in making people be more involved in the environment. The louder the music, the livelier it becomes to dance, and therefore, it generates more sales of drinks.
Attractive products attract more buyers, which is why perfume products that are meant for ladies are elegantly designed in a particular shape and size to look cute. Not only perfume bottles but overall, every cosmetic product is marketed in elegance. Doing so attracts the females even more than what the actual product does.
Likewise, brands know that most guys prefer masculinity- which influences the fact that skincare products come in a straight, cylindrical container. In simple words, the appearance can boost sales. From the color itself, the consumer group can guess the product.
When only one exposure is bound to grow up sales figures, marketers have a forever liking for crafting subliminal communication. It does not hit the marketing budget and requires minimum spending. Besides quicker sales gains, it has long-term returns in terms of the brand proposition, values, and ideals.
Companies wouldn’t simply add a thing to their brand for no reason. They know even a slight mistake and a slight clever move can change the entire dynamics. The first reason why you can say subliminal marketing is important is that it is an instant stimulator.
That is, subliminal messages are least concerned about the perks and disadvantages. Often, people would purchase items without a second thought, having been directed by the unconscious mind. A subliminal message directly commands people that they need the item, and they have to have it.
Increases Brand Recalls
Subliminal marketing also comes with the power of making the consumer group remember you for a longer time. Because obviously, the subliminal message is going to be unique, the viewer’s brain will have a short memory of it stored in themselves.
The more iconic the message is, the longer will people be able to keep recalling the brand. Following encounters of the brand by the viewers will make them more curious, searching for their products and wanting to try them out. Instantly, the brand value comes up in their mind, and all the credit goes to subliminal advertising. To ace your marketing you might want to look at- 9 important marketing KPIs.
All of these mental activities are done with the least exposure, but maximum gain is achieved. Studies show how the public has to be exposed to a brand at least three times for them to realize its existence, while subliminal marketing cuts down the number to only one.
Only a simple subliminal message is enough for people to turn to you, all while you can enjoy the sales boost through minimum efforts.
Easy to Connect
Through subliminal advertising, marketers practically control every psychological aspect of consumers. Such messages touch the soft corner of every individual. It, therefore, enables marketers to manage the emotions of the people and take them anywhere they feel like. What can also help to connect with your consumers is psychographic marketing.
Disadvantages of Subliminal Marketing
Due to the complexity of the human mind, it has various levels of consciousness. Be it the state of dreaming, conscious-rational, and lastly, the subconscious level. This last level is one that is not able to function through logic or reasoning abilities and cannot differentiate between what is real and what is fictional.
Subliminal messages sent into the subconscious mind give it the foundation to grow the message into reality. It is a form of thought-controlling, as there is a link of communication between the subconscious and the conscious mind, allowing them to affect each other.
Hence, there is much controversy surrounding the use of these subliminal messages, as hidden persuasive messages have been used to influence audiences. Such incidents are commonly found in commercials and advertising, and in rock music. There has been much criticism on the use of insidious subliminal messages to maximize revenue.
Subliminal messages used in advertising or subliminal advertising are most of the time consisting of brief visual or audio messages that our brain does not consciously register what it has seen or heard. Most of the time, there is less than a 25% chance that the message will be picked up by the conscious and is used to provide a stimulus for action.
Subliminal marketing does exist. In actual fact, very few marketing agencies endeavor to input such messages due to the powerful impact that they can place on the audience, which would lead to the overwhelming bad press that would be received if the subliminal message was found out. This puts off any potential benefit that subliminal marketing may bring.
The researchers also found that priming only works when the prime is goal-relevant. In plain English, this means you’re potentially going to buy a product that quenches your thirst only if you were already thirsty anyway. Subliminal messages are therefore more effective in priming a target audience to choose one brand over another rather than in recreating a real need for the product.
While it has yet to be sufficiently proven that the brief subliminal messages can affect your behavior without you knowing, it is still arguable that subliminal marketing can be more effective than normal means of promotional communications, which people are consciously aware of.
When we talk about subliminal marketing, there is often a discussion whether there are laws for subliminal marketing. Let’s find out?
Are there Laws for Subliminal Marketing?
The United States does not have a specific federal or state law addressing the use of subliminal messages in advertising. Instead, it is the country's advertising and broadcasting regulatory agencies that deal with the topic and its impact on the public.
In contrast, other countries do have specific laws in place concerning subliminal marketing. Britain and Australia, for example, ban subliminal advertising for any reason.
Subliminal advertising, because it is intended to produce information that the viewer is not aware he is receiving, has been ruled as not protected by the First Amendment. In Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New York in 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that in order for marketing speech to be protected by the First Amendment, it must not be misleading.
Subliminal advertising, by its very nature, does not fall under this protection. In the 1989 case Vance v. Judas Priest, a Nevada judge ruled that subliminal messages aren't protected by the First Amendment and do constitute an invasion of privacy.
He also ruled that subliminal messaging was not used in that particular case because, to date, no one had proven that subliminal messages could actually move someone to act against his will.
The Federal Communications Commission will revoke the broadcast license of any company that uses subliminal marketing in its broadcast. It came to this conclusion after many years of research.
In 1955, the FCC issued a statement that subliminal marketing was a cause of public concern and that broadcasters should approach the technique cautiously.
In 1974 the FCC issued Public Notice FCC 74–78, and an Information Bulletin called "Subliminal Projection," following much investigation into the topic. The FCC stated that all broadcasting licensees should not use subliminal advertising techniques because the techniques are deceptive, which runs counter to the purpose of the FCC. The statement is still on the FCC's website as its stance on subliminal marketing.
The Federal Trade Commission does not have any statement or regulation specifically addressing subliminal marketing. The closest it gets are sections 5 and 12 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
These sections forbid any advertising that is deceptive or unfair. Subliminal marketing falls under the category of deceptive, according to court rulings and the FCC. For advertising to be barred based on unfairness, the act must be intentional and affect commerce, which could be harder to prove for subliminal marketing
Tips to Ace Subliminal Marketing
If you don’t do something right there is no point doing it. Hence, to make sure you excel your subliminal marketing, how about we give you a set of tips? Here are some tips for Subliminal marketing.
It’s common to see phrases such as, “Buy Now!” used in ad copy to indicate a clear call to action. The less obvious, but no less important component, can come from creating a call to action through a subliminal sense of urgency.
One way to do this is to utilize ad customizers, such as countdown customizers, which allow you to add a countdown clock to your ads. This is perfect for creating a fear of missing out when promoting an upcoming event or running a discount whether limited time or evergreen.
Countdown customizers can be added to multiple components of an ad, including the title, text, and path. The intention is to make the user feel as though there is a limited amount of time for them to complete the conversion process and amplify the need to not miss out on the opportunity to do so. Another strategy is to use specific ad copy language such as “limited time,” “limited (re)stock,” “last chance,” or “highly requested.”
This, again, creates that sense of urgency that this product or promotion could run out at any moment. This potential loss of opportunity can create the need to “buy now” that supersedes the need to plan out the purchase, wait for a better price, or more carefully consider whether it’s something they want or not. From these two tactics, you could effectively expect an increase in CTR and in conversion rate.
You can think of keyword insertion as the paid search way of mirroring someone – a common psychological tactic of copying or mirroring back to someone their verbal or nonverbal behavior to subconsciously create a feeling of familiarity and trust. While it’s likely that you’d see an increase in CTR from this tactic, there are other added benefits to utilizing keyword insertion.
This may include better relevancy scores from the search engine algorithms, which can lead to higher quality scores and improvements in ad rank, and potentially even lower CPCs. The inserted keyword will also appear bolded in the ad copy, immediately pulling the user’s attention to the part that is relevant and will feel the most familiar to them.
Ensure that your ad copy language is strategic and intentional. Think about whether or not users will be more or less likely to click (and convert) with small tweaks to the wording or language you are using.
We see the use of the “99 cent” modifier to pricing now as an industry standard and best practice (Ex. Using $19.99 instead of $20.00 for pricing). However, there are other ways to update rhetoric to make it more enticing.
One scenario is when you’re running a promotion, such as a “50% Off” promotion in your ad copy. While this is a great promotion, consider testing to see if using Buy One Get One (BOGO) language in your ad copy helps to improve your CTRs and conversion rates.
This may be a more incentivizing offer for consumers and comes with the added bonus for the advertiser of potentially getting the consumer to purchase more product(s) and generate more revenue with BOGO, as opposed to offering a single product at a 50% off discount.
One of the most effective ways to utilize subliminal marketing is via your logo. While the greater part of your promoting resources are continually changing, your logo stays consistent.
Since your logo is probably going to show up in a large portion of your advertising endeavors, it's the ideal channel for your subconscious cue. That is on the grounds that the more individuals see it, the more instilled the message becomes in your crowd's inner mind.
Use Sub Audible Messaging
Conveying subtle cues through sound has been utilized broadly in self-improvement and individual assistance businesses. As an advertiser, you can likewise use this strategy in your online media crusades.
Subliminal marketing is an incredible method for joining subconscious informing into your online media crusades. Subliminal messages are discernible signals, normally at a lower volume than your essential sound source. Because of the lower volume, they are heard on a subconscious level, not by the cognizant brain.
Then again, you can utilize a sound related to something your crowd loves. A normal model is the utilization of Christmas-themed chimes in a promotion to drive deals during the Christmas season.
Keep in mind the force of sound. Utilized well, it tends to be a vehicle to send subtle cues in your online media crusades. Simply remember that many individuals peruse online media timetables with their sound off. So utilize viewable prompts to send subconscious cues in your missions also.
To do this, you can either streak pictures in video or just use colors that are normally connected with something natural to your crowd. Learning psychology behind the colors is a straightforward method for sending subtle cues.
Studies have shown that particular tones trigger specific neurological and passionate responses in watchers. Here is what each color stands for.
- Red: energy, action, physical needs, danger, excitement, strength
- Orange: warmth, friendliness, hunger, fun, freedom, comfort
- Yellow: cheerfulness, fun, vitality, happiness, optimism
- Green: life, rest, wealth, freshness, health, peace, relaxation
- Blue: trust, reliability, calmness, dependability, stability
- Purple: spirituality, pride, luxury, sophistication, courage, mystery
- Pink: sensitivity, romance, empathy, care, hope
Subliminal marketing isn't just about adding stowed away messages to your social media. It tends to be pretty much as unobtrusive as utilizing the right tones to get the appropriate reaction from your crowd.
Know Your Audience
Planning subliminal marketing content for your digital platforms require a profound comprehension of your crowd. This guarantees that your messages are not exclusively as they would prefer however that they address their center problem areas.
Examples of Subliminal Marketing
Favorite of many the Toblerone logo is more than what meets the eye. At first glance, the Toblerone logo looks like your average Swiss mountain range. But take a closer look and you’ll notice that the logo features a bear standing on its hind legs expertly hidden in the design. This is a clever tribute to the Swiss city of Bern, nicknamed “the city of bears,” where the chocolate company was founded.
#2 Baskin Robbins
If you love ice-creams then Baskin Robbins has to be one of your top places where you get your ice-cream from. You might even know the company sells 31 flavors of ice cream. But did you also know that Baskin Robbins uses subliminal advertising?
In fact, the company used a subliminal message to promote the number of flavors it sells. It’s subtle, but it gets the point across. There’s a distinct “31” within the “B” and the “R”. The company uses that subliminal message to reinforce its well-known unique selling proposition: a whole lot of flavors to choose from.
This one is a difficult one to crack at first. Even your friendly, neighborhood FedEx is harboring a hidden message. The whitespace between the E and X clearly outlines an arrow. FedEx uses the arrow to highlight speed and efficiency the brand’s biggest benefits.
Here comes the most liked, universally loved Amazon with it’s not so subtle yet subliminal marketing. The logo of Amazon. Amazon has arguably one of the most recognized logos around. But no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you may not have really taken it in.
Take a look at the strategically placed arrow to see what we mean. The hidden message here is simple: Amazon sells everything, from A to Z. It helps, of course, that Amazon actually does sell everything. It’s not pushy or salesy, it’s just a reinforces the channels all-in-one model. The fact the arrow also forms a smile doesn’t hurt, either.
The Toyota logo is not anything extra that you have not seen for other car companies. However, if you pay careful attention, you can see that the logo has meaning. Interestingly, the various parts of the graphic can spell out the word “Toyota.”
Take a look at the graphic to the left of the company name in the image below. See if you can make out letters within it. You can create letters by hiding specific parts of the logo. Then, you can use the letter you create to spell out the brand name.
You can see how to do that with the image that follows. Different parts of the logo can create different letters. Toyota uses that logo to reinforce its brand. It’s a very clever strategy. Toyota uses that logo to reinforce its brand. It’s a very clever strategy.
#6 The Simpsons Chapter 14 Season 12
This example is quite different from the others and not specific to a particular brand. We are talking about a popular TV series- The Simpsons. In this chapter of the series, the character of Bart Simpson, one of the protagonists, becomes part of a boy band along three other schoolmates. This band is promoted by a strange character called L.T. Smash, who will later be discovered to be a member of the United States Navy. In one of the songs of the band, one can hear a mysterious message that says “Yvan eht nioj”, that when read backwards means “Join The Navy”.
Although it may be a parody of subliminal messages, The Simpsons episode summarizes quite correctly the purpose of these messages and how they are transmitted. In addition to the audible message, the video contains some key frames, such as the image of Uncle Sam inviting to join the Navy. These two ways, the audio game and hidden frames, are very common in the launch of subliminal messages.
#7 Coca Cola Vs. Pepsi
The two companies popular for its performance in the market and also popular for its rivalry and clash of advertising. One of the examples of their excellent advertising work is this campaign.
In this campaign, the fight is appreciated in a much more bitter way. If you look at this image above you will see that Pepsi wants to imply that people dressed up as Coca-Cola people would be scared. In contrast, in the second image (right), Coca-Cola uses the same image and conveys the message that with Coca-Cola all are heroes, something that everyone would like to be.
It works so well because the two classic competitors each manage to make consumers see their product in a positive light – while casting a clear shadow on the competition. It’s designed to make you feel something without explaining why, and it manages to do just that.
The Tostitos logo is something almost all of us are familiar with, but unless you’ve taken the time to really inspect it, you probably missed the hidden scene in the middle. The two T’s also form two friends sharing chips and salsa.
It works because it isn’t in your face, and it promotes the benefit of the brand. The message is so subtle, you likely never even consciously noticed the message before. Enjoy a tasty snack with people you like. It isn’t pushing sales necessarily; instead, it’s pushing an experience.
#9 Pirates of the Caribbean
Not just your children’s favorite, but your favorite too, Disney has been acing it when it comes to subliminal messaging. More importantly to note, they are not that subtle for a subliminal message but it always seems to work. Let’s look at this examples.
In this poster, a longer look has many convinced that Disney adapted the well-known skull and crossbones emblem to look more like their iconic Mickey Mouse logo. People love Mickey Mouse. They feel good about Disney.
So present them with something that’s reminiscent of both, and they’re bound to transfer some of those good feelings – whether conscious of it or not. Whether it was Disney’s intention or not to draw such a close similarity, there’s no denying the resemblance.
While this one is fairly easy to crack we could not keep it off the list because of how beautifully its done. There are a few subtle details that are easy to overlook. The white space in the middle combined with rainbow colors around it creates the illusion of a peacock. This represents the company’s pride in the shows and programs they produce and broadcast.
How Can Deskera Assist You?
Marketing is not a one-man’s job; especially in subliminal marketing it really takes a lot of work. To ace your marketing, you need a team in place to come up with out-of-the-box ideas and a software like Deskera that can help you execute it right. Wondering why Deskera would make the best pick for you? Deskera CRM and Deskera CRM Plus are the tools you need to make that world of a difference from the way you process your sales, customers, and orders. The cherry on the top, Deskera, also has a set of some amazing landing page templates that will help you create yours. To learn more, take a look at this quick walkthrough.
- Subliminal marketing is a form of marketing that uses absolutely intentional messaging, sounds, or visuals to get a specific point across to those viewing the ad.
- The goal of subliminal marketing is to make your audience walk away from the ad with a specific message in their mind that they didn’t consciously receive from the ad directly.
- A message that has an influence on a person’s subconscious is different from a subliminal one.
- Sub-audible messages are usually much lower volume than the primary audio, making them subtle yet still there.
- This form of messaging shows subtle visual cues to viewers, like a hidden message within a logo or a small image tucked away within another image.
- Back masking is used in audio recordings. It features a voice recording played backward on a track or recording that plays forward.
- The messaging is designed to elevate the persuasiveness of the advertisement, or it can even convey a completely different message altogether.
- Subliminal marketing is engaging, increases sales, it is cost-efficient, works as an instant stimulator, increase in brand recalls, increases conversion rates, and makes it easier to connect with the audience.
- Advertising and broadcasting regulatory agencies deal with subliminal marketing’s impact on the public.
- Countdown customizers can be added to multiple components of an ad, including the title, text, and path.
- You can think of keyword insertion as the paid search way of mirroring someone.
- Ensure that your ad copy language is strategic and intentional.
- Conveying subtle cues through sound has been utilized broadly in self-improvement and individual assistance businesses.
- Planning subliminal marketing content for your digital platforms requires a profound comprehension of your crowd.
- Try Deskera to ace your marketing.