Drink Coca-Cola. Hungry? Eat popcorn.

One thing that fascinates me a lot is subliminal messages. Subliminal messages are the stimulus that pass below the borders of human consciousness and might be capable to influence human behavior without his realization.

The first usage of subliminal messages was in 1957 while, during a movie, the sentence “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Hungry? Eat Popcorn” appeared in one of the movie’s frame. Vicary – the experimenter – lied about the results of this experiment and, nowadays, the results of subliminal are still under discussion.

This kind of manipulation might be capable to make people think or have certain ideas without knowing why through their unconscious. An example of how it can influence people’s actions is, for instance, showing a picture of a really tasty burger to create desire and will for consumption. And guess what? It might work wonderfully if your main objective is to sell a product.


The controversy around subliminal messages


In countries like Australia and Britain, subliminal messages were completely banned from the media. In other countries, they were not banned but are discouraged to avoid some possible problems on the impact that create on the audience.

The controversy gets even bigger when it’s time for a consumer to submit a complaint against the abusive use of the advertising. These cases are really hard to prove by the simple reason that subliminal is not supposed to be conscious. If a person is aware of the message, it’s no longer subliminal. Besides, it’s even harder to prove that that message influenced the consumer’s behavior to act in a certain way.

Ethics and consumer’s choice

Marketers should be aware of these implications for consumers. Before planning strategies of this kind, it’s important to reflect upon the consequences. In one hand, it might increase sales and awareness of your brand. On the other hand, you are depriving people of their own reasoning and interfering with their personal freedom.