May 07, 2009

"How to sell more Coke and popcorn"

Does subliminal advertising work?

The first purported case of subliminal advertising was in 1957.

During a screening of the film Picnic, an American market researcher, James Vicary, projected the words ‘Drink Coca Cola’ and ‘Eat Popcorn’ on to the screen for a fraction of a second. The duration of the image was so infinitesimal it could only be picked up subconsciously. During the intermission, the sale of Coke and popcorn rocketed. It appeared that by appealing directly to the subconscious, marketers could change people’s behaviour.

Later, genuine studies have supported James' finding that subliminal messages do have an impact on our subconscious.

A Harvard University experiment, conducted in 1999, showed that simply flashing the words ‘wise, astute and accomplished’ on a computer screen (while playing a computer game) to one group of senior citizens, and the words senile, dependent and diseased to a second group, affected the way the volunteers subsequently walked.

Now, how can we put this to work on the web? For aren't we all, in one way or the other, trying to sell more Coke and popcorn?

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