Middle of the day, you are busy… suddenly you want pizza… Not just any pizza, a “zzz” pizza. Whoa! Where did that come from? It probably worked this way – It might have been a hot day, you might have been thinking about the amount you are sweating and how good it would have been if you had been near a tropical beach… then you might have remembered the last time you went to the beach, along with that memory came the “zzz” you saw when you drove out of the beach parking lot after having a really nice day… boom, there you have it now you want a pizza from “zzz”. This is not a direct advertisement, but this explains how our mind works and how corporations can manipulate us to evoke this type of association in our brain.
Advertising is powerful. No one is immune to that power. If you think you are, you are kidding yourself. I always thought some commercials were stupid (Ha!). Why will they show stretches of beaches and blissfully retired, satisfied looking couples for a simple burger? Because I know nothing about subtle manipulations and subconscious awareness.
They are not directly advertising the burger but they are actually doing a manipulation to associate the burger with a satisfying, good meal. You won’t recognize that immediately, that doesn’t mean the ad is a failure. The burger will be at the back of your mind. One day when you want to have a meal, you will promptly remember the burger.
I love this video… If you cannot watch it using the embedded player above, click here to watch it on Youtube.
What is Subliminal Marketing?
Subliminal marketing is an age old marketing technique that uses graphic design elements to communicate a message subconsciously. It uses deep connotations and stereotypes that we are well aware of to get into the audience’s mind and deliver the message… which them knowing about it.
Several studies have been done on this subject, to give an example-
Johan Karremans did a study assessing whether subliminal priming of a brand name of a drink would affect a person’s choice of drink […] His study sought to ascertain whether or not subliminally priming or preparing the participant with text or an image without being aware of it would make the partaker more familiar with the product. Half of his participants were subliminally primed with Lipton Ice (“Lipton Ice” was repeatedly flashed on a computer screen for 24 milliseconds), while the other half was primed with a control that did not consist of a brand. In his study he found that subliminally priming a brand name of a drink (Lipton Ice) made those who were thirsty want the Lipton Ice.
Recent studies have proved that even if people were not thirsty (working from where the previous study left off), they would be still biased towards the Lipton drink.
It won’t affect me
It affects all of us. If we see a message/text/something reminding us of a product over and over again, we are soon going to believe that the product is superior or if we have more choice and less information, we are going to reach out for that particular brand.
A lot of us who are brand loyal won’t “really” know the difference in taste or quality of the name brand and the generic. There are some products which are manufactured by the same company but part of it is packaged by the name brand company and part of it gets sent as store brand. We still find a difference in taste! That is because we are taught to believe the other brand is good.
It is not just the brand, the packaging conveys messages too. 7-up added 15% more yellow to the color of the can and people complained the taste was more lime-y. But the flavor had not changed.
What can we do about it?
Admitting that we are affected by advertising is a great step in the right direction. Influenced by advertisements or not, we are the ones responsible for our purchasing habits. So it will do us a lot of good to just accept that we are going to be influenced, no matter what we do. We are not above being manipulated.
If we are aware of the manipulation and the subtle messages that reinforce a brand in our minds, we can at least think twice before spending money on that product. We can actually look up the reviews of the particular brand and its competitors to make an informed decision. Ignorance is not an excuse for spending money.