Subliminal messaging- why do I want that?

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Advertising. We’ve all been victims of big corporations trying to sell their products to us.

A new type of advertising has sprung up over the years that had taken off in the world of Hollywood and film-making. Subliminal messaging in movies and TV shows.

Subliminal messaging is when products or messages are added to subconsciously make you want to buy, try, or do what the company is trying to sell you.


It is linked to perception and mind control- something that is used when an individual can be controlled without being aware.

This concept dates back to the early 1900s, starting with broadcasting on the radio, and is still in work today.

The idea is that if your brain registers an unpleasant word, then it will associate the whole concept as unpleasant, and vice versa.

The thing is- these messages are made to be subtle and barely noticeable. Katniss Everdeen isn’t going to be prancing around with a MacBook Air under her arm.

No, subliminal messaging strives to be almost unseen and unnoticeable.

In the early 1930s, cigarette ads based their products around the saying- sex sells. Soon, cigarette manufacturers frequently included pictures of pin-up girls in boxes of cigars.

Later, cigarette commercials televised with less than a second frames with the words- SMOKE.

Your eyes may not have been able to register the frame, but your brain logs   what is said. And then proceeds to start thinking about what the cigarette ad’s goal was- to smoke.

For example, in 1957, the phrases, ‘Drink Coca-Cola’ and ‘Eat popcorn’ were flashed during movies for 1/2000 of a second, and were claimed to raise popcorn and soda sales marginally.

Disney is also guilty of subliminal messaging, by mixing old characters into new movies, for instance, Scar, the evil lion from The Lion King, makes an appearance in Hercules.

Subliminal messaging is a concept that may be overlooked because of being so subtle, but just remember, the next time you’re watching a movie in the cinemas and find yourself craving a salty snack out of nowhere, it may have something to do with subliminal messaging.

Written by Meaghan Caskey

Meaghan Caskey is a freshman at MC and is known for making ugly faces and drinking way too many smoothies than a fifteen year old girl should consume. Meaghan competes nationally at Irish dancing and on the weekends can be found at the beach scuba diving, or hanging out with her four cats. She loves to travel and see new sights and hopes to move to Europe in the future.

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