OP/ED: Are Your Eyes Open?

OP/ED: Are Your Eyes Open?

“Submit, Obey and Buy!”

These are all subliminal messages embedded in advertisements to get people to buy their products. A subliminal message is a message to the subconscious or the normal limits of perception.  These messages can even make people take actions and decisions in reality that they normally wouldn’t make.

However, we can also use subliminal messages to our advantage. Subliminals can also heal old wounds, achieve goals and change our moods or mental states.

Different colors, hidden figures and words used by marketers will allow people to crave a particular item or feeling attached to it.

Living in a capitalistic world, it is no surprise that big corporations have subconsciously made audiences more aware of their products.

Subliminal messaging in advertising was first introduced as a concept by James Vickery and later reiterated by Vance Packard in his 1952 book, The Hidden Persuaders.

In it, he claimed that moviegoers had been subjected to subliminal commands to increase the sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn at the movie concession stands.

He was right, there was a drastic increase in sales based on the advertising that was done before the movie.

People weren’t too happy with the concept of this subliminal marketing as no one enjoys feeling manipulated.

This led the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to state that subliminal advertising “contrary to the public interest.”

Subliminal messages have been put in several television shows such as The Simpsons.

Bart Simpson, one protagonist on the show, becomes part of a boy band along with three other schoolmates. This band is promoted by a strange character called L.T. Smash, who becomes a member of the United States Navy. In one song, one can hear a mysterious message that says “Yvan eht nioj”, that when read backward means “Join The Navy.”

Another example of this is in the movie The Lord of the Rings. One might not have noticed the inscription inside the precious ring said “Coca-Cola.” That’s right – it is product placement for one of the biggest companies in the world.

The Simpsons episode summarizes the purpose of these messages and how they are transmitted. Besides the audible message, the video has some keyframes, such as the image of Uncle Sam inviting them to join the Navy. These two ways, the audio and hidden frames, are very common in the launch of subliminal messages.

Another example of a subliminal message in advertising is the aim threshold. According to Perception and Psychophysics, this is found using a forced-choice procedure, in which participants must choose which stimulus they saw from options given to them. Participants have flashed a stimulus (e.g. the word “orange”) and then given a few choices and asked which one they saw. Participants must choose an answer in this design. The aim threshold is obtained when participants are at a chance level of performance in this task.

For instance, the Tostitos logo has an image of two people enjoying chips and salsa within its logo. The subject sees this and choices to give in to the experience of some chips and salsa.

Another one is the Baskin Robbins logo. Baskin Robbins is known for having 31 flavors. Within the logo next to the B and the R, one could see the number 31. This allows the consumer to understand why Baskin robins may differ from other ice cream shops.


According to Perceptions and Psychophysics, different colors are made to make one feel a particular way. For example, reds, oranges, and yellows are associated with making someone hungry. That is why it is the color scheme for most fast-food joints.

So where does one go from here?

It is almost impossible to avoid the hundreds of thousands of subliminal messages places all around advertisements present in our everyday lives. It is also gross thinking about how they can manipulate our own thoughts to open our wallets.

Being more aware of them is a start.

Paying attention to how one feels after an advertisement instead of falling victim to an impulsive buy is also a solution.

However, if corporations have made people buy their products, people can also use subliminals to improve our overall way of life. This takes the power back in the people’s hands.

According to Essential Life Skill, Positive affirmation statements have been shown to re-program one’s thought patterns and change the way one thinks and feels. They are short statements such as “I am confident” played on a loop that can help the subconscious mind to get rid of self-limiting beliefs.

Sound frequencies are also very effective for several issues like healing PTSD and easing anxiety. Chart-topping artist, Jhene Aiko, has even put out a Trigger Protection Mantra made with the frequency 43Hz.

She stated that the E note helps with oversensitivity to criticism, will support the releasing of the need to control and support the boosting of self-esteem. The A Note will support the release of nightmares, learning difficulties and strengthen high intuition and charisma.

One can listen to her soft voice over the calm frequencies and feel decluttered, relaxed and ready to start the day. There are several subliminal on YouTube that can help with all different blockages and can clear our intuition.

Thus, raising consciousness to our surroundings and the garbage that corporations try to push down our throats. Once we gain full control of our minds and thoughts, no business can manipulate you.

So, yes, it is okay to have a Coke or get some Baskin Robbins once in a while, just know of the hidden messages and keep your eyes open.