March 20th, 2005

self portrait (escher)

below the threshold

I think by this point, everyone knows that tapping on the lid of a soda can with your fingernails will prevent that can from exploding, regardless how shaken up it might be. What they probably don't know is why that works!

Well, I don't either.



Searching Google for that information, I stumbled across this fascinating article on Subliminal Advertising. It's a long read, but a good one.

Basically, it's all reversed from how I imagined it (my perception comes mostly from Michael Chrichton films). Yes, there's a lot of sexual imagery used, but it's nearly all homosexual in nature, so we can bury their message along with the unwanted stimulus. These guys thrive on our being so repressed. (Our best defense? Don't be.)

And then there's this:
    One of the research techniques advertisers used is depth interviews, either in individuals or groups. The researcher would gather a group of people and discuss a topic, like in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The psychologist would lead and direct the discussion so people would reveal their fears and desires. For example, an alcoholic might say something about having nightmares after trying to stop drinking. The researcher would then ask exactly what the alcoholic was dreaming about, and then use his dreams as subliminal images on advertisements.


    The advertisers' favorite image to put in here are skulls and screaming contorted faces. Key has analyzed such an ad and found that these are the nightmares alcoholics have in their sleep. Using a similar technique, I also found a dozen or so screaming faces, skulls, and animal faces in a Seagram's Extra Dry Gin ad. If I only found one face in one ad, it could have come from my imagination. The multitude of similar images in several alcohol ads shows that advertisers must have intentionally put it in.
Back in Elementary School, I had these supplimentary classes, and we spent a whole quarter in there going over advertising. Somehow, they never mentioned any of this.

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