Subliminal Messages in Advertising

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Subliminal Messages in Advertising Revision
Evelyn J Hoover
English 1102 Sec. 06
Debbie Brooks
June 29, 2011

Subliminal Messages in Advertising
The purpose of advertising is to market products and entice people to purchase what others are selling. According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1974) the definition of advertise is, “1: inform, notify, 2: to call public attention to esp. (especially) in order to sell” (p.29). Advertising has been around for many centuries and dates back to the ancient Romans. Ads at that time were nothing like they are today. Their ads were transcribed on walls. Unlike ours that are on televisions, magazines, billboards, and newspapers, to name a few. I read an essay that gave examples of print advertising. There were ads for cars, cigarettes, alcohol beverages, and many more. Some of the pictures in the ads were provocative. The pictures and print messages told a story and that got me thinking. What message was the company was trying to send their consumer demographic? The ads look as though they contain subliminal messages. Subliminal messages are suggestions that are processed by the subconscious mind without the conscious mind realizing it. This leads me to my next question. Do we have control of our decisions or do subliminal messages in advertising get into our subconscious and contribute to our decision-making?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1974) defines Subliminal as, “existing or functioning outside the area of conscious awareness” (p.681). We are unaware how the messages are conveyed to us. They are usually hidden in pictures or flashed so quickly across a TV screen our conscious mind cannot even see them. A 1950’s print advertisement for Ballantine Ale is a great example. It shows four women and two men flirting and having drinks. One of the women is tilting her head back laughing, with a drink in her hand, as though she is going to pour it down the front of her. Another woman is sitting on her crossed leg...
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