Sociology 2172A/B Chapter Notes -Subliminal Stimuli, Marlboro Man, Tobacco Advertising

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Published on 20 Apr 2013
School
Western University
Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 2172A/B
Professor
I Can’t See Clearly Now
Subliminal Messaging, Alive and Well 10/17/2012 2:27:00 PM
Summer of 1957
o William Inge 45699 moviegoers over a 6-week period went to movie
theater in Fort Lee, New Jersey for William Inge‟s play Picnic
James Vicary (market researcher) had placed a mechanical slide
projector in the screening room, and had projected the words “Drink
Coca-Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” for a duration of 1/3000 of a second
onscreen every 5 seconds during every showing of the movie
James Vicary
o Coined the term subliminal advertising
o Claimed that during his experiment, the fort Lee theatre saw an 18.1%
increase in Coca-Cola sales and a 57.8% surge in popcorn purchases
o Consumers were convinced that the government could use the same kinds of
under-the-radar techniques to peddle propaganda, and the Communists could
use them to recruit supporters, or that cults could use them to brainwash
members. As a result, American television networks and the National
Association of Broadcasters banned subliminal ads in June of 1958
1962
o Dr. Henry Link challenged Vicary to repeat his Coke-and-Popcorn test
This time the experiment yielded no jump whatsoever in either Coke
or popcorn sales
o Interview with Advertising Age Vicary admitted his experiment was a
gimmick (made up)
Despite Vicary‟s confession, the damage was done, and belief in the
power of subliminal messaging had been firmly planted in the
American public‟s mind
o American Psychological Association pronounced subliminal advertising
“confused, ambiguous and not as effective as traditional advertising”
Consumer paranoia about the topic drifted away
15 years after Vicary‟s faux-experiment (1972)
o Dr. Wilson B. Key published Subliminal Seduction with a cover
photograph picturing a cocktail with a lemon wedge in it, accompanied by the
irresistible teaser, Are you being sexually aroused by this picture? New
wave of paranoia
FCC (Jan. 1974) announced that subliminal techniques in
advertising, whether they worked or not, were “contrary to the public
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interest,” and therefore, any station using them was in danger of losing
its broadcasting license
United States and United Kingdom today
o No explicit bans against subliminal advertising
o Federal Trade Commission has taken the position that a subliminal ad “that
causes consumers to unconsciously select certain goods or services, or to alter
their normal behaviour, might constitute a deceptive or unfair practice”
Subliminal Advertising
o Visual, auditory, or any other sensory messages that register just below our
level of conscious perception and can be detected only by the subconscious
mind
o Almost register these messages, but not really
The Exorcist (1973)
o Moviegoer fainted and broke his jaw on the seat in front of him sued
Warner Brothers, and the filmmakers, claiming that the subliminal images of a
demon‟s face flashed throughout the movie had caused him to pass out
Fight Club (1999)
o Viewers accused the makers of the film of subliminal manipulation, claiming
they had planted pornographic images of Brad Pitt in the movie in a deliberate
attempt to enhance the film‟s “anti-work message and revolutionary tone”
Led Zepplen
o Play “Stairway to Heaven” backward and you‟ll supposedly hear “Oh, here‟s
to my sweet Satan”
Queen
o “Another One Bites the Dust” played backward allegedly yields “It‟s fun to
smoke marijuana”
1990
o Parents of two 18-year-old boys from Nevada who had attempted suicide took
the British heavy-metal band Judas Priest to court, charging that the band had
inserted subliminal messages including “Let‟s be dead” and “Do it” – inside
its song lyrics
One of the boys who survived the joint suicide attempt was later
quoted in a letter as saying, “I believe that alcohol and heavy-metal
music such as Judas Priest led us to be mesmerized”
Suit was later dismissed
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Much of the time, when subliminal messages show up in our culture, they‟re selling
sex
o 1995 Yellow Pages advertisement for an English flooring company called D.J.
Flooring, whose motto is “Laid by the Best”
When held upright, this ad features an image of a woman holding a
champagne glass, but tip it over, and what you see is an image of a
woman masturbating
o Exercise machine with bare-chested man silhouette of an erect penis
imprinted on the man‟s abs
o Ketchup company featured a hot dog and, poised over it, a dollop of
ketchup coming out of a bottle that resembled a human tongue
o Woman with manicured fingers resting on computer mouse suggests a
clitoris
1990
o Pepsi was asked to withdraw one of its specially designed “Cool Can” designs
from the market when a consumer complained that when the 6-packs were
stacked a certain way, they produced a pattern spelling out s-e-x
Advertising manager denied saying “The cans were designed to be
cool and fun and different; something to get the consumer‟s attention”
Pepsi spokesman insisted that the message was an “odd coincidence”
Some stores play tapes of jazz or Latino music that conceal recorded messages
designed to prod shoppers into spending more or to discourage messaging
o In stores that broadcast these tapes overall sales are up 15%, while store thefts
have fallen by 58%
2006
o KFC ran an ad for its Buffalo Snacker chicken sandwich that, if the viewer
replayed it in slow motion, revealed a code that consumers could enter on the
KFC Web site to receive a coupon for a free snacker aimed at countering a
rise in ad-skipping technologies such as TiVo; KFC using hidden messages
By the 1990s “subliminal” had taken on a new name: “primes” or “visual
drumbeats”
2006
o Clear Channel Communications introduced “blinks” radio ads that lasted
about 2 seconds
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Document Summary

10/17/2012 2:27:00 pm: william inge 45699 moviegoers over a 6-week period went to movie theater in fort lee, new jersey for william inge s play picnic. James vicary (market researcher) had placed a mechanical slide projector in the screening room, and had projected the words drink. Coca-cola and eat popcorn for a duration of 1/3000 of a second onscreen every 5 seconds during every showing of the movie. As a result, american television networks and the national. Association of broadcasters banned subliminal ads in june of 1958. 1962: dr. henry link challenged vicary to repeat his coke-and-popcorn test. This time the experiment yielded no jump whatsoever in either coke or popcorn sales: interview with advertising age vicary admitted his experiment was a gimmick (made up) Despite vicary s confession, the damage was done, and belief in the power of subliminal messaging had been firmly planted in the. American public s mind: american psychological association pronounced subliminal advertising.

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