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I like it but I don’t know why…

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.

 

A great example of Subliminal Marketing at work…

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.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Hunter @ Financially Consumed

Loved this article, and video. Like most I suppose, I missed all the subliminal images for the ad guys in the cab…probably because they were subliminal. Very clever.

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MoneyCone

I honestly can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, but Coke is what comes to my mind if asked for a preference! Incidentally, I see more Coke ads than Pepsi! That’s all there is to my preference!

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Suba

MC, what do you mean you can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi? Coke is much better than Pepsi ;)

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krantcents

Saturday, I had this desire for pizza. I think it was from some suggestive ad or maybe I saw it in a movie. It must be subliminal since I don’t recall where I saw it. For some crazy reason, it was the best we had in a long time.

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Suba

Now you will have even more urge to go back :) But that I will understand.

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Looks like your video was pulled …

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Suba

Sorry about that, it can still be watched on Youtube though…

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Jackie

Advertising definitely affects us all. And there’s just so much of it, everywhere. I actually felt relieved in some other countries because there is less advertising. (And now I want pizza. Grimaldi’s pizza, to be exactly. Luckily, we already have a plan to go there later in the week!)

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Suba

Haha, after I wrote this, I ended up going for pizza too. Unfortunately we didn’t even plan that…

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Jackie

Advertising definitely affects us all. And there’s just so much of it, everywhere. I actually felt relieved in some other countries because there is less advertising. (And now I want pizza. Grimaldi’s pizza, to be exact. Luckily, we already have a plan to go there later in the week!)

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Elle

I was fascinated by some of the episodes I found on Derren Brown. It’s amazing how subtle messages can be given with advertising to encourage us to buy more. Being aware of it is a step to fighting against needless spending.

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Suba

Elle, there was another episode on car salesman. I could never say they were lying, but he figured out. I don’t know how many lies from salesmen I have believed so far without realizing…

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

Very interesting article. I must say I am not affected by these types of messages very often because I never watch TV. I only watch shows once in a while and they are pVR’d with no commercials. I do watch out for what I read in magazines though.

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Suba

Miss T, I am going to disagree with you :) You don’t need TV or magazines to be affected by ads. As long as you are not closing your eyes and walking :) you will be subjected to them… and you will be influenced.

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Untemplater

Woah I’m so glad I watched the video all the way to the end – that is crazy!! I was going to say ads don’t influence me before I watched it, and now I can definitely tell you’re right – we really are all affected by it. Thanks for enlightening me! -Sydney

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Suba

Sydney, yeah it was an awesome video. First I thought it was a bit long, but after finishing it I was glad I stuck with it :)

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SB @ One Cent At A Time

Occasionally its better to get carried away by add, Auto insurance is one of those exceptions, every time I watch an insurance add I try to get lower quote. Recently my wife bought magic bullet (grinder) and its working great, It will save money otherwise going in for buying coffee grinder every 3 months or so. Advertisement sometimes helps, you need to think logically and control impulses. I know its a tough job..

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Khaleef @ KNS Financial

I’m at work, so I can’t watch the video right now; but I do agree with you about association. It’s not enough to just suggest a product – most of us are immune to this type of blatant advertising – but if they can associate a certain event or feeling with their product, then we won’t even realize the influence is there!

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Khaleef @ KNS Financial

I just took a look at the video – that’s very interesting. I really would like to find out what tendencies he picked up on in order to exploit them like that. Very good!

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sophie

This reminds me of the movie They Live (where Obey clothing got their brand idea). A man puts on these glasses and all of a sudden he can see the subliminal messages of advertising ie. CONSUME, OBEY.

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Buck Inspire

I actually worked at an advertising company in a previous life. I thought it was a big scam because products sell themselves! Apparently not. That video was awesome and congrats on your nomination!

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Invest It Wisely

Interesting post! I think it’s not the end of the world if we’re influenced — after all, a Lipton’s ice tea really is refreshing, and pizza IS good. If we’re influenced to do things harmful for us then it”s bad of course, but I think most people are influenced because they already had a pre-existing desire. My girlfriend’s not crazy about a steak and even if she sees a commercial about a juicy, tender steak, we won’t be any more likely to buy one when we’re actually at the supermarket.

We always have the choice to spend the money in the end — maybe we like to be manipulated a little bit. Makes us feel better about our spending choices?

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Jen @ Master the Art of Saving

Now I want pizza! Subliminal marketing is crazy effective, as is the power of suggestion. Great post Suba. :-)

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Bre

About the Coke and Pepsi debate, there is no way anyone can sit down blindfolded and not know the difference. Pepsi is just a flat Coca Cola.

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