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Subliminal Advertising Essay, Research Paper

1.) On television, a common technique to influence a viewer is to flash messages or images for so little time, that it almost seems like a flicker that really never happened. Ways that this has been used is by flashing images that are pleasing to the eye, like a flashy color, or maybe even a picture with sexual innuendo. The cheapest technique, usually used by people, like car salesmen, is to ask the viewer a string of questions, which we all know will have the answer “yes.” By doing this, the commercial gets you ready to agree with any pitch they are trying to make you buy.

2.) A more cunning way to make you buy a product is to brainwash your emotions, questioning yourself, “Would I be a bad person if I do not by this product?” For instance, the people that would like you to donate money to the sick, hungry children is some run-down village. They show you pictures of babies crying, adults with hardly any meat on their bones. The commercial then claims that by your donation, you can save a life, but if you do not, you’re letting a life die. This technique is an effective way, but I believe that there are some ethics involved in purposely tampering one’s emotions.

3.) A technique usually described as using “buzz words” is found more in print than on television or radio. If we are scrolling through a newspaper and we see an exciting flashy word, our eyes tend to draw towards it. Companies are entirely aware of this, so that’s why they flash words on their ads like, “FREE,” “NEW,” “HURRY.” Something about these words makes us want to see what the fuss is all about, and to read the company’s ad. Now when you do read the ad, there will be “buzz words” embedded into the ad that do not even look flashy.

It is always words that do not actually have any significant meaning, but they are added in anyways. For example, words like, homemade, improved, 100%, tasty, just to name a few.

4.) Michael Jordan is selling you Gatorade, Jerry Seinfeld is backing up American Express, and Paul Reiser wants you to use AT&T. Why do these famous stars appear on commercials and ads? The purpose is to subliminally give the product traits that it never even deserves, like wealth, fame, and success. When you see Michael Jordan drink that Gatorade and then go for a 360 slam dunk, they want you to think that,”Hey, maybe if I drink Gatorade, I can become a great a basketball player as Michael Jordan!!!” Now when you see something like Jerry Seinfeld with American Express, they want you to think, “If somebody so prestigious and successful as Jerry Seinfeld loves American Express, than it MUST be a great card to have!” Besides the less obvious, there is simply the fact that somebody wants a famous celebrity to present a product, rather than some common person, what is the hype in that?

5.) Thirsty? Drink Coca-Cola. Hungry? Go to McDonald’s. Need underwear? Buy a pair of Hanes. The infamous “Bandwagon” technique, where the motto is, “Everybody else is doing it, so why aren’t you?” Companies that have already achieved marvelous success will start using advertisements, suggesting it is second nature to buy the product. As if it was so popular, you might be insane not to have this product in you house. For instance, the new saying of McDonald’s is, “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” Whoever came up with that phrase for their commercials is a genius, because there is so much behind that quote than what it actually says. It gives you the idea that they are the best, the tastiest, and the most popular, without really even telling you this up front. McDonald’s knows that they are successful, so they do not need some cheap gimmick to sell their food, all they have to do is be there, and the people will flock.

6.) Do you want to be fat? Are you trying to treat your hair badly? Would you like to have zits covered all of your face? The technique of “fear,” where they let you know that not buying this product will be disastrous on your own self. How about having dandruff on prom night? Mostly used on people that are uncomfortable with their self, and believe that they need some improving. Maybe the oldest gimmick on television today, the BEFORE/AFTER scene, where somebody looks terrible in one picture, than in the after picture, they look terrific! Toothpaste eliminates embarrassing bad breath, deodorant hides unpleasant odors, and face creams prevent ugly pimples, see what I am talking about?

Finding a target audience is the root of using subliminal messages. The company has to do extensive research on what audience their product attracts the most to; usual groups can be classified as teenagers, young adults, children, and senior citizens. The audience can even be more specific, like female, Latino, handicapped, etc. Once the company has established their target audience, they find out what are their strong points, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, fashion, attitude, and “taste” is. Once all the possible information is compiled, they discover ways into tricking the audience to buy a product. A popular way to do this is by using stereotypes that appeal to that particular audience. For instance, if the product is targeted towards somebody who cares too much on how they look, a company might use some dumb, but popular blonde, that only cares when her next date is.

Here is a little tidbit for you, Aunt Jemima of Aunt Jemima’s Maple Syrup, used to have the appearance of a southern slave. This was actually done to attract an Afro-American audience more, I suppose because it takes a slice of their ancestry, it might draw more attention than any other maple syrup. Nowadays, to be politically correct, they have changed Aunt Jemima to an ordinary modern-day black woman. So what target audience do you fit in, probably more than one? Then when you decide what target audience you are classified as, take a look around what products you purchase at home, then analyze the commercials for that product. By then, you will realize what I am talking about.

You will never see an ad for nose rings in a Better Homes magazine, nor will you ever find a diaper commercial for senior citizens on MTV. Its called marketing, and this area holds a plethora of professionals that know how, when, and where to sell a product. The concept is not that hard to understand, where the specific audience where will most likely look, that is where the advertisement will be. It is more likely to find a commercial for toys on “Saturday Morning Cartoons,” than to find a toy commercial on the Discovery Channel. The best time to find commercials for around-the-house products is in the afternoon, when the soap operas are on. This is why certain companies sponsor types of events, because they know that their target audience is going to be there. Once a company establishes their target audience, all advertising money is used to find where they are going to be looking. For example, a jeans company would be eager to sponsor a rock concert that teenagers and young adults would attend. You do not have to find advertisements, ADVERTISEMENTS WILL FIND YOU!!!

Even though it is scientifically proven that subliminal persuasion has been used since the dawns of time, only until 1957 was one publicly exposed. At a movie theatre in Fort Wayne, New Jersey, was the first place to ever be recognized for subliminal brainwashing. As moviegoers watched the movies, every 1/20th of a second, the message “Drink Coke, Eat Popcorn.” Since the message flickered so fast, it was too quick for the conscious mind to comprehend. Scientists behind the ordeal calculated that after a few months, prices of Coke raised 18% and popcorn increased an outstanding 53%. When the details were released to the public, they were terrified that people can manipulate their minds so deviously. In a more recent case, the character Joe Camel of Camel cigarettes, was claimed to be an idol for the younger generation, and in effect, making them grow up to become Camel smokers. Something about the use of cartoon images and the image of coolness seemed to target a younger audience. There was even talk that the head of Joe Camel purposely represented “a part of the male anatomy.” There cannot be any hard evidence that such techniques are being applied, but most scientists believe that something is going on there. Speaking of sexual innuendo, there is controversy whether or not foul play is going on in Miller Draft’s “Dick campaign.” As perverted, as it may seem, the small flicker of the word on the end of each of their commercials may subliminally warp a person’s mind. All the big businesses are doing this as well, but they are just getting away with it. So next time you watch your favorite commercials, analyze what makes this commercial so great.


I know that you may think people like me are looking way into these matters, and that we are acting paranoid. What is it that you do not realize is while you are feeling nothing is wrong, commercialism is robbing your mind. People should have the choice to decide on whether they really want to buy a product or not, without any side messages embedded into their brain, without them even being aware. The world today is throwing hard earned money down the tubes as the result of some flashy advertising campaign they saw on television or in some magazine. I am not saying that there shouldn’t be any advertisements at all, just for the companies to stick to the basics. Just tell what the product is used for, and the beneficial results it can have, when purchased. That is basically all I can tell you about the subliminal advertising underground, and I hope that you learned a lot. Here are a few points to take with you next time you view an advertisement.

* In actuality, do you really need this product?

* Has the advertisement showed more than just about the basics of the product?

* Do you catch yourself reciting a slogan or humming a jingle?

* Do you ever find the presenter of the product absolutely entertaining, enough to buy the product

* Have you ever purchased a product just because the commercial says everyone has it?

* Do you believe that there is no such thing as subliminal advertising?

If you replied “yes” to any one of these, chances are you are…


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