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The Impact of Subliminal Stimuli on Advertising

Written by H. Farooq

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Communication & Media




Bachelor Thesis Subliminal Advertising: The Battle of the Popular VS the Scholarly Years, 1960Martha RogersIn the article published by Martha Rogers of the Bowling Green State University the author looks to set a contrast between the conventional and scholarly views that surround thetopic of subliminal advertising. Rogers begins by referring to an experiment conducted by James Vicary in 1957 where he flashed the messages “Drink Coke” and “Eat Popcorn” on a movie screen. The messages were played at various intervals, however for such short time frames that the viewing audience could not actually process those images. Instead, the experiment was designed to make use of subliminal stimuli (the flashed messages) in order to boost concession sales and encourage viewers to purchase the mentioned products while they were at the theatre. While the details of Vicary’s experiment and its effectiveness were not clear, it did manage to gain a great degree of public attention towards the field of subliminal advertising. Vicary’s experiment caused a public outrage as critics began to question the ethical bounds by which advertisers were supposed to oblige to. Thus the conventional stand point of subliminal advertising being a tool to serve corporations in maximizing profits by creating demand where it does not exist. Likewise, the psychiatric field also took great interest in the issue while maintaining that the potential effects of using subliminal advertising were unknown due to the lack of scientific rigor in such few conducted experiments. In 1958, a psychologist countered various arguments regarding the nature of subliminal advertising and its implications. In his work, he established that while subliminal advertising could “tell” consumers about a need or product, it could not necessarily “sell”it. This means that the audience from Vicary’s experiment could have been subliminally informed of the need to drink Coke or eat Popcorn during a movie, it would not have been enough to ensure that they actually went out to execute this thought in the shape of purchasing these products. The author then refers to Vance Packard who in his work “The Hidden Persuaders” warns consumers about the implications of subliminal advertising. The author establishes that while Packard focuses on subliminal advertising being a science involving developing a greater understanding about consumer behavior, his views in regards to the subject matter are often bias and can be considered more like his personal opinions about subliminal advertising rather than being facts due to a lack of scientific or statistical evidence to support his claims.Wilson Key’s work is put into question next; the author states him as being a popular yet bias writer in the field of subliminal advertising. Key’s work has been described as being a representation of his own interpretation of the subject matter, however one that he persistently outlays as fact. Key wrote several papers and addressed various journals and magazines in which he stated that the advertising industry is deliberately placing the word “sex” hidden within advertisements along with using various phallic symbols in order to subliminally attract consumers. The author criticizes Key’s arguments and position on the topic due to a lack of supporting evidence in his work combined with the level of impact that he had within the American public (which the author considers unfair).The Author then refers to various studies conducted within the field of cognitive psychology in which she establishes that the meaning of a stimuli does not reside within the stimulus itself, but rather by the receiver in active, complex and often specialized ways. Hence the presence of subliminal stimuli is not enough to persuade consumers into purchasing products that they would otherwise not have brought. On the other hand, it would allow them to feel needs that they already possess. For instance, Vicary’s experiment would, at its best be able to generate latent thirst in a consumer without being able to convince them into purchasing a can of Coke or causingPepsi consumers to shift to Coke.In conclusion, the author establishes that subliminal advertising is a scientific field which involves tapping into the mindset of the consumers and pitching them ideas through unconventional practices in hopes that they would act upon these unseen messages. However these subliminal messages are not powerful enough to cause a consumer to actually make involuntary purchases, develop new habits or switch from existing ones *such as in the proposed view of subliminal advertising being a form of “mind control”. The article looks at three different dimensions of what the author considers to be tools of manipulation and control over a consumer’s autonomy. Arington states the first of these as being puffery; an advertising technique that involves deliberately elevating the status of a product so that it appears to strike particular consumer needs from afar. Hence advertisers would have to make use of motivational research in order to determine the hidden needs and desires of their potential consumer market in order to construct advertisements that specifically address those demands. The author states that puffery can be considered as bragging carefully in order to achieve specific effects.Next up, the author turns his attention towards subliminal advertising. The author describes it as transferring messages directly into the subconscious mind of the consumers through the use of various subliminal stimuli. In order to explain the phenomenon he author quotes an incident in which a department store masked subliminal messages (into the background music) about how shoplifting is illegal and can have serious consequences on the party involved, causing a reported decline in shoplifting at the store. This is followed by another example of how a cinema in New Jersey flashed advertisements for ice-cream on the screen during a movie, resulting in high sales for the mentioned product at the concession stands. Hence we can see that subliminal stimuli can have a powerful effect on consumers that are being targeted by advertisers. The author then moves onto looking at various arguments both for and against the subject at hand. Arington asks if the successfulness of such techniques implies that many of us (consumers) have forfeited our autonomy over the choices we make. He then shares how the advertisement and business world reject such interpretations by referring to a post within the Business Week magazine which states that advertisers work towards ensuring that people (consumers) get what they desire through the use of such techniques and should therefore not consider this a sort of subjectivity with sinister implications, but rather a mutually beneficial relationship. In a nutshell, businesses just sell products that the consumers want; not doing so would cause firms to eventually run out of business. Likewise, consumers actually purchase the products they see in advertisements not because they are tricked into buying them but because they generically want to. This can be proved by looking at consumer buying patterns, where one can assess that they make frequent purchases of the same product(s) over time. Research type This research is mainly based on basic research and is carried out to increase the knowledge base for further research related to the topic at hand. However, it is not intended to solve the problem itself (as in the case of applied research). Therefore, this type of research aims to answer questions related to the "why, what, and how" of the topic, while also enhancing a basic understanding of the basic principles involved in its function. Although basic research cannot be directly applied to the real world, the main purpose of this research is to infer the improvement of research items, identify problems and make suggestions to further improve the research. 3.2 Data types and research period In order to conduct this research, I used quantitative data. The main data is collected through the use of questionnaires, which are distributed among the target groups. The content of the questionnaire is standardized and objective, and it is filled out by the respondent. The questionnaire type is a closed question, which limits the interviewers’ opinions. The questionnaire was made using the Likert scale. 1 means strongly disagree and 5 means strongly agree. Secondary materials are used for literature reviews; most articles come from published journals such as (but not limited to) JStore. 3.3 Research hypothesis 1 (H0: β0 = 0): Test the hypothesis that there is no significant relationship between perception and the influence of subconscious stimuli on advertising. 2 (H0: β0≠0): Test the hypothesis that there is significant / 3(H0: β1 = 0): Test the hypothesis that the effectiveness of the stimulus is not significantly related to the influence of the subconscious stimulus on the advertisement. 4 (H0: β1 ≠ 0): Test the hypothesis that there is a significant relationship between the effectiveness of the stimulus and the influence of the subconscious stimulus on the advertisement. 5 (H0: β2 = 0): Test the hypothesis that there is no significant relationship between the medium used and the influence of subconscious stimuli on advertising. 6 (H0: β2 ≠ 0): Test the hypothesis that there is a significant relationship between the medium used and the influence of subconscious stimuli on advertising. 7 (H0: β3 = 0): Test the hypothesis that there is no significant relationship between consumer portraits and subconscious stimuli on advertising. 8(H0: β3 ≠ 0): Test the hypothesis that there is a significant relationship between consumer portraits and the influence of subconscious stimuli on advertising. 9 (H0: β4 = 0): Test the hypothesis that there is no significant relationship between the motivation behind the use of subconscious stimuli and the influence of subconscious stimuli on advertising. 3.4.3 Dramatic proof of variable perception. Auxiliary data shows that consumers' general perceptions have negative attitudes towards the use of subconscious advertisements (Ralph, public attitudes about subconscious information). This has been shown to be due to an explosion of articles published in the mid-1960s, which questioned the technology as a tool for manipulative thinking change. In her work (Subliminal Advertising: The Battle of Popularity and Scholars), Martha Rogers reveals how the traditional concept of subliminal information is shaped into something that may not be as harmful as skeptics once thought. Validity In an article published by Sharon E. Beatty and Del I. Hawkins in 2002, the author described how subconscious stimuli can only encourage pre-existing behaviors to take action, rather than implanting an individual that is unlikely to take action. The new behavior his or her own mentality. This shows how to use subconscious stimuli to persuade consumers to buy products they already want, instead of manipulating them to buy products they don't need. The media research used shows that although the most prominent method of sending subconscious data to consumers is visual communication (advertising and behavioral control). However, we also learned from the work of Bertrand Klass (the ghost of subliminal advertising) that other less-rich media (such as audio channels) are equally useful when used effectively. The secondary data of consumer profile shows that consumers who are educated, understand the concept of subconscious information and belong to functional families are less susceptible to subconscious stimuli than consumers who are not educated (John R. Vokey and J. Don Read-Subliminal Information: Between the Devil and the Media) Motivation In his work, Alvin W. Rose describes how consumers are willing to try to use subconscious stimuli to encourage or prevent certain behaviors and habits of self-service products. However, the author did come to the conclusion that most people who participated in his research experiments were reluctant to continue using these products because of their ambiguity about the subject. Technical research shows how technological advancement and the ingenuity of marketers promote the development of subconscious technology. Various studies have emphasized methods such as odor marketing as an example of such innovations in the field to maintain an ethical framework. Subject of Implementation According to the work of Albert King (1965), subliminal advertising proved to be a tool that uses consumers’ innate desire for respect, sexiness, and social status as a means to create profits for companies that seem to be using ordinary people. Confronting consumers. people. Read Less