Interested in the legal view on subliminal messages in advertising? According to the Federal Trade Commission, advertising must:
- Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
- Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims; and
- Advertisements cannot be unfair.
When is an ad deceptive?
- Is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and
- Is “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product.
And when is it unfair? When it
- it causes or is likely to cause substantial consumer injury which a consumer could not reasonably avoid; and
- it is not outweighed by the benefit to consumers.
What makes it deceptive?
- The FTC looks at the ad from the point of view of the “reasonable consumer” – the typical person looking at the ad. Rather than focusing on certain words, the FTC looks at the ad in context – words, phrases, and pictures – to determine what it conveys to consumers.
- The FTC looks at both “express” and “implied” claims. An express claim is literally made in the ad. For example, “ABC Mouthwash prevents colds” is an express claim that the product will prevent colds. An implied claim is one made indirectly or by inference. “ABC Mouthwash kills the germs that cause colds” contains an implied claim that the product will prevent colds. Although the ad doesn’t literally say that the product prevents colds, it would be reasonable for a consumer to conclude from the statement “kills the germs that cause colds” that the product will prevent colds. Under the law, advertisers must have proof to back up express and implied claims that consumers take from an ad.
- The FTC looks at what the ad does not say – that is, if the failure to include information leaves consumers with a misimpression about the product. For example, if a company advertised a collection of books, the ad would be deceptive if it did not disclose that consumers actually would receive abridged versions of the books.
- The FTC looks at whether the claim would be “material” – that is, important to a consumer’s decision to buy or use the product. Examples of material claims are representations about a product’s performance, features, safety, price, or effectiveness.
- The FTC looks at whether the advertiser has sufficient evidence to support the claims in the ad. The law requires that advertisers have proof before the ad runs.
And that is a bit on the law and how Subliminal Messages within advertising may be viewed.
In a study by Johan Karremans, at the University of Nijmegen, his findings were that subliminal messages were also more powerful and effective if they were goal oriented.
In another study at Duke University, it was proven that ads that included subliminal messages were far more effective at creating sales than those without them.
And finally, in a more recent study by Lavie at University College London they found that negative subliminal stimuli was more influential than positive.
Participants in this final study had a 66% accuracy rating when identifying negative subliminal words. Lavie attributes this to natural survival instincts that kick in to protect us.
Levie explains, “We can’t wait for our consciousness to kick in if we see someone running towards us with a knife or if we drive under rainy or foggy weather conditions and see a sign warning ‘danger’.”
Did you know that the band Judas Priest was accused of inspiring a double suicide by having subliminal messages in their music. It even went to trial. The interesting part about it is the song that they sang that was at the heart of the accusations was not even written by them. Here is an interview of what happened. You decide for yourself whether subliminal messages was at the heart of this tragedy or simply a scapegoat used to try to place blame and assuage a family’s grief.
When was subliminal messages first noticed in advertising? In 1957 , James Vicary claimed to find amazing increases in the sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn when he flashed the phrases “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat popcorn” for 1/2000 of a second during a movie. The statistics showed an increase in popcorn sales by 58%, with an increase in Coca-Cola sales by 18%. (Cane) This is perhaps the shocking information that led to an enormous response from the public. Individuals as well as legislators imagined possible effects of subliminal perception on the future- a world where everyone was subliminally manipulated to do what perhaps the government wanted them to do. (Elliston) In reality though, research on subliminal effects has shown little overall effects in controlled conditions. There is no evidence based in real-world settings done by top researchers on influencing behavior. Also, in 1962, Vicary stated that the study was a fabrication and the evidence now suggests it was. He never released a detailed description of his study and there was never any independent evidence to support what he claimed.
Throughout history, we have looked to political and governmental institutions to examine whether mind control and subliminal perception has been used amongst the general public. The CIA, for example, is one branch of government thought to use this technique in order to gain its authority over large bodies of people. If it is actually effective is up to public opinion of belief and personal reported experience.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received complaints of a television station using subliminal messages in 1974. This was the first new case since the original in the 1950′s. The FCC responded by issuing a public notice, which stated their official position- “We believe that the use of subliminal perception is inconsistent with the obligations of a [broadcast] licensee, and therefore we take this occasion to make clear that broadcasts employing such techniques are contrary to the public interest. Whether effective or not, such broadcasts clearly are intended to be deceptive.” The United States government has supposedly tried to take steps to protect individuals from unwanted influences relayed by subliminal messages. It has produced regulations to prohibit subliminal messages to advertise consumer products. Such products include malt beverages and distilled spirits.
Here is a brief essay that we discovered entitled Telepathy and the Subliminal Self.
We have presented in this well the most favorable conditions possible for crystal-gazing—a body of unusually clear sparkling water, lying upon a white sand bottom, and the rays of the sun reflected into it by means of a mirror;—no better “cup of divination” could be desired, nor any better circumstances for securing the psychical conditions favorable for the action of the subliminal self.
SENSOR V A UTOMA TISMS. 219
The various methods of practising crystal-gazing tiere noticed may be looked upon simply as so many different forms of sensory automatism, referable in these instances to the sense of sight; and -whether produced by using the “cup of divination,” the ink or treacle in the palm of the hand, the jewels of the Jewish high-priest, the ordinary crystal or stone of the early Christian centuries, and even down to the experiments of Miss X., and the Society for Psychical Research, or last of all, the wells or springs of clear water, either the early ones of Greece and Rome, or the latest one on the farm of Col. Deyer, they are all simply methods of securing such a condition by gazing fixedly at a bright object, as best to facilitate communication between the ordinary or primary self, and the secondary or subliminal self. It is the first, and perhaps the most important, in a series of sensory automatisms, or those having reference to the senses, in distinction from motor automatisms, or those produced by various automatic actions of the body.
These sensory automatisms are usually looked upon as hallucinations—but so far as the term hallucination conveys the idea of deception or falsity it is inappropriate, since the messages brought in this manner are just as real—just as veridical or truth-telling as automatic writing or speaking.
Hearing is another form of sensory automatism, which, while less common than that of seeing, has also been noticed in all ages.
The child Samuel, ministering to the High Priest Eli, three times in one night, heard himself called by name, and three times came to Eli saying, “Here am I;” adding at last, “for surely thou didst call me.” The wise high-priest recognized the rare psychic qualities of the child and brought him up for the priesthood in place of his own wayward sons; and he became the great seer of Israel.
Socrates was accustomed to hear a voice which always admonished him when the course he was pursuing or contemplating was wrong or harmful; but it was silent when the contemplated course was right. This was the famous ” Daemon of Socrates,” and was described and discussed by Xenophon and Plato as well as other Greek writers and many modern ones. Socrates himself called it the “Divine Sign.” And on that account he was accused of introducing new gods, and thus offering indignity to the accredited gods of Greece. On this, as one of the leading charges, Socrates was tried and condemned to death; but in all the JOAN OF ARCS VOICES. 221
proceedings connected with his trial and condemnation he persisted in his course which he knew would end in his death, rather than be false to his convictions of duty and right; and this he did because the voice—the “Divine Sign “—which always before had restrained him in any wrong course, was not heard restraining him in his present course.
Only once was it heard, and that was to restrain him from preparing any set argument in his defence before his judges. So he accepted his sentence and drank the hemlock, surrounded by his friends, to whom he calmly explained that death could not be an evil thing, not only from the arguments which he had adduced, but also because the Divine Sign, which never failed to admonish him when pursuing any harmful course, had not admonished nor restrained him in this course which had led directly to his death.
Joan of Arc heard voices, which in childhood only guided her in her ordinary duties, but which in her early womanhood made her one of the most conspicuous figures in the history of her time. They placed her, a young and unknown peasant girl, as a commander at the head of the defeated, disorganized, and discouraged armies of France, aroused them to enthusiasm, made them victorious, freed her country from the power of England, and placed the rightful prince upon the throne. She also heard and obeyed her guiding voices, even unto martyrdom.
Numerous instances might be cited occurring in ancient and also in modern times where the subliminal self has sent its message of instruction, guidance, warning, or restraint to the primary self by means of impressions made upon the organ of hearing. Socrates, Joan of Arc, Swedenborg, and many others considered these instructions infallible, supernatural, or divine; but in other cases the messages so given have been trivial, perhaps even false, thus removing the element of infallibility and absolute truthfulness from messages of this sort, and at the same time casting a doubt upon their supernatural character in any case. It seems wisest, therefore, at least to examine these and all cases of automatically received messages, whether by writing, trance-speaking, dreams, visions, or the hearing of voices, with a definite conception of a real and natural cause and origin for these messages in a subliminal self, forming a definite part of each individual: bearing in mind also that this subliminal self possesses powers and characteristics varying in each individual case, in many cases greatly transcending the powers and capabilities of the normal or primary self. But infallibility, though sometimes claimed, is by no means to be expected from this source, and themessages coming from each subliminal self must be judged and valued according to their own intrinsic character and merit, just as a message coming to us from any primary self, whether known or unknown to us, must be judged and valued according to its source, character, and merit.
And that is the part of Telepathy and the Subliminal Self that we found most interesting.
Here are some subliminal messages that were caught by viewers during the Aria awards. This video shows you the exact subliminals that were used by companies like KFC at these awards. They also debate if this is illegal. Fascinating stuff.
The subliminal messages written about in this article refers to psychic phenomenon. Again this is very different than today’s definition but it is interesting nonetheless how often we are finding these references in our subliminal messages research.
HOW IT CAME INTO MY HEAD.—THE MACHINERY OF INTUITIONS
The following pages are the substance of an address given to the Society for Psychical Research, under the title, more congenial to its nomenclature, of “ The possible Sources of Subliminal Messages!’
The word “message” is used in the sense specialised in psychic vocabulary, as signifying the perception, by one’s ordinary consciousness, of some memory, sensation, or deduction, of which one has been previously only sub-consciously aware, and which is externalised as a message from one part to another of one’s personality. The former title, not of my own invention, is one which I reject for two reasons. First, the word ”subliminal” does not, to my own mind at least, convey the intended image. I can understand a perception being below the floor of my consciousness, but the notion of its being below the threshold, seems as a symbol, unnecessarily imperfect. The word ” message,” though otherwise unobjectionable, has been adopted by the spiritualists, and suggests an association with “Mediums,” and “Controls,” and “Stances,” all entirely remote from my present consideration.”
Interesting use of the term subliminal messages don’t you think?
Here is more information that we found on Subliminal Messages in Advertising.
“The usual picture that the word “subliminal” conjures up is the movie theater with the messages being flashed on the screen for a fraction of a second telling patrons to buy soda pop and popcorn. This classical experiment really worked. People never saw the message consciously but they bought soda pop and popcorn like mad. The conclusion: we react to things we can’t see with our conscious minds, and we, therefore, react to many more things than we think we do.
The technique of subliminal information giving has been considerably broadened in recent years so magazine ads now employ it. The magazine advertisers do not include a tachistoscope with their product; it is much more subtle than that. Rather than provide images that flash on the screen, for milliseconds, they carefully hide their images where we can not see them with the conscious eye.” – Miles C Olson
<H3>How is a A Tachistoscope Used with Subliminal Messages ?</H3>
* Wikipedia definition of a tachistoscope is a device that displays (usually by projecting) an image for a specific amount of time. It can be used to increase recognition speed, to show something too fast to be consciously recognized, or to test which elements of an image are memorable. Actual tachistoscopes use a slide or transparency projector equipped with the mechanical shutter system typical of a camera. The slide is loaded, the shutter locked open, and focusing and alignment are adjusted, then the shutter is closed. When ready for the test, a shutter speed is selected, and the shutter is tripped normally.
The following is from the Federal Communications Commission’s Manual for Broadcasters:
We sometimes receive complaints regarding the alleged use of subliminal techniques in radio and TV programming. Subliminal programming is designed to be perceived on a subconscious level only. Regardless of whether it is effective, the use of subliminal perception is inconsistent with a station’s obligation to serve the public interest because the broadcast is intended to be deceptive. (this is from the FCC manual for broadcasters)
In our continued subliminal messages research, we found this article. Again this is not what is considered subliminal messages today but it is interesting how this terminology has evolved.
Our Continued Subliminal Messages Research
“Mn. F. W. H. Myers then concluded his address (begun May 29th), on “Problems of Personality,” the substance of which will, it is hoped, appear in our Proceedings. The speaker reviewed the various classes of automatic and subliminal messages in their relation to the primary memory of the automatist.
In the first place, some of these messages, like the “inspirations of genius,” or the brief apparitions which showed no purposive action of their own, seemed to be assumed without any perceptible break iato the superficial chain of memory.
Secondly, in certain cases, a subsidiary or concurrent chain of memory was manifested, as, for instance, in ordinary automatic writing, where the messages written exhibited an intelligence involving memory, but not necessarily interfering with the automatist’s primary intelligence and memory, which might be occupied with other matters while the message was being written.
In the third place, the secondary chain of memory sometimes became sufficiently dominant to alternate with the primary,—as in such cases as those of Mme. B., Felida X., Ansel Bourne, ic.
In the fourth place, there were sometimes indications that a fusion of memories had occurred, or at any rate that the subliminal memory was’ wider in its scope, and represented the individuality more completely than the superliminal.
The question of the various origins of automatic messages was then once more discussed. It was concluded that, while at our present stage of knowledge it was very difficult to distinguish what the subliminal self might have itself acquired through the exercise of clairvoyant or similar powers from what it might have acquired by telepathic impact from other intelligences, yet there was reason to suppose that both these factors must be taken into account. Indeed, the very existence of the clairvoyant powers of the subliminal self indicated a realm of laws under which even direct communication from disearnate intelligences lost much of its antecedent improbability.”
And that concludes the subliminal messages research that was done at that time.