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Examples of Subliminal Messages

Examples of Subliminal Messages That Have Evident Consequences

The presence and effect of subliminal messages around us is a highly debated topic. However, there are definite instances in everyday life in which the use of subliminal messages has been made. Let us read more about them in this article.
MarketingWit Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
One of the most controversial topics, that will probably always be disputed is the presence and effect of subliminal messages in our daily life. Do subliminal messages exist? If yes, do they affect our behavior and the way we perceive things in any way? These questions are what this Buzzle article will be dealing with. We'll try to understand the concept of subliminal messages and also give you some instances in which these messages are used in our day-to-day lives.

Meaning of Subliminal Messages

Our mind has two levels: the conscious and the subconscious. Our conscious mind takes in whatever messages are sent out to us through the most obvious channels. For instance, when you watch a movie about a gangster, your conscious mind by default, focuses and processes only the information that is related to the whole concept of gangsters. It will not focus on a barber seen in the background of a fight scene. Because that is not what it is trained to do. Our subconscious mind, however, is the one that registers the things going on in the background. Since it is the subconscious part of the mind, we don't even realize that our brain is processing the information. This subconscious part of our mind is said to be 'below' the threshold of normal perception. Hence it is called the 'sub'liminal part of the mind. Any messages intended for or perceived by this part are called subliminal messages. Generally, these messages appear in the periphery of another visual display and are usually in the form of continuous but flash messages or messages that appear for a fraction of a second. Whether these messages are intended to bring about a change in the behavior of the recipient or they're just a trick implemented by a bored visual artist is a debatable. Let us see some of the instances where subliminal messages are found very obviously.

Instances of Subliminal Messages

Given below are some of the most common fields that have made use or continue to make use of subliminal messages in their works. These messages may or may not have an underlying meaning, but the truth is that they do exist. Let's see how these messages have been used.

In Songs
Subliminal messages in songs was a fairly common phenomenon, especially in the yesteryears. There were many artists who induced subtle messages in their songs which could be deciphered when the songs were played backwards. Most of these messages revolved around Satan worship and the like. Given below are some popular examples of the use of subliminal messages in songs.
  • In the song Hotel California, the line There were voices down the corridor, I thought I heard them say ... Welcome to the Hotel California, when played backwards, sounds like Yeah Satan, he organized, oh, he organized his own religion. Yeah, when he knows he should, how nice it was delicious, he puts it in a vet and fixes it for his son which he gives away. Also, apparently the Hotel California that is referred to in this song is actually a street where the first church for Satan was built.
  • Another example is the lyrics of the song Stairway to Heaven, the lines If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May Queen. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run. There's still time to change the road you're on. This song when played backwards sounds like - Oh here's to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He will give those with him 666. There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan. While no one knows why these messages were included, there are people who do not accept them and just renounce it as a distortion of the songs.
In Advertising
The use of subliminal messages in advertising was very prevalent earlier. With time, it was seen that these messages were not put in there by mistake, they were deliberately included in ad campaigns to constantly keep reminding the audience about their products and thus influence them to buy them, resulting in an increase in their sales. Given below are a couple of examples of subliminal advertising.
  • One of the most popular instances is when in 1957, a market researcher for Coca Cola, James Vicary had the message 'drink Coca Cola, eat popcorn' flashed on the movie screen in cinema halls, for just a fraction of a second, every 5 minutes. Amazingly, the sales of both, Coca Cola and popcorn went up.
  • Another blatant example of the use of subliminal messages, mostly related to obscene messages, is in posters and pictures used for advertising products like confectioneries, bread, and even company symbols. The very popular Skittles pack, if noticed carefully has an 'S' skittle right next to the tag line that says 'berry explosion....'. The 'S' skittle is very strategically placed next to the word 'explosion'. Any guesses as to what the message is?
  • Another example of subliminal messages in advertising is the Need for Speed 2 poster. When seen carefully, the lights in the buildings behind the name spell out the word 'sex'.
In Movies
The use of subliminal messages in movies may be denied but it cannot be ignored. Whether it is a still in an animated film or simply a movie poster, the presence of these messages is certainly becoming obvious by the day. Given below are some of the most popular instances of subliminal messages in Disney movies, the leader in subliminal messages, and a couple others too.
  • Such messages in Disney movies have been a matter of controversy since they were discovered. While Disney denies intentionally adding them, saying that it is an error, how does it explain the messages that are seen in so many of its movies? For instance, in The Lion King, the shot when Simba lies on a cliff top and remembers his father, the stars in the sky spell out the word 'sex'.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, there is a scene in which Jessica Rabbit jumps out of a taxi. If the frame is frozen, it is clearly seen that her bare legs are spread wide and the skirt is flying away from her body.
  • The castle in the poster of The Little Mermaid has been on the list of obscene subliminal messages forever. If you notice carefully, the castle has an image resembling a phallus embedded in it.
  • On the poster of The Silence of the Lambs, the moth that covers Jodie Foster's mouth, when seen very closely, has figures of naked women on it.
Subliminal messages, whether used intentionally or not, and whether they have an effect on the psyche of people or not, are definitely an infringement and an invasion into one's mind. More so because it is not the conscious mind that they target, but the unconscious mind. While they can be totally ineffective in most instances, constant exposure may lead to behavioral and other changes.