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Wednesday, 20 April 2016 10:27

Subliminal Split

By  George Dunkerton


The Flashing Image

"Section 3. Misleading-advertising". BCAP Code. Committees on Advertising Practice (CAP). 2013. "No advertisement may use images of very brief duration, or any other technique that is likely to influence consumers, without their being fully aware of what has been done.”  

The idea of inserting a frame of an image or product into moving image is for it not to be seen at normal speed, therefore affecting the viewer subconsciously, supposedly encouraging further thought or desire for the image presented, in this concealed manner.
There are questions as to whether people watching the 1943 film “Wise Quacking Duck” felt the need to invest in bonds when the words “BUY BONDS” appeared on the shield of Daffy Duck’s statue, unnoticed by the viewers. Or if people were aware of the white faced demon appearing in Father Karras’ nightmare in the 1973 film “The Exorcist”, and whether they experienced an increase in fear having noticed this image either consciously or unconsciously. Or did viewers of “Iron Chef America” feel a desire to buy fast food after the Mcdonald's logo appeared on the screen for a split second and had they even noticed it was there.

Imagine this scenario: you are relaxed watching your favourite television show after a long day. Unbeknownst to you, a single frame of a McDonald's logo has been inserted within the show; the speed at which it appears and then disappears is too quick to notice with the naked eye, but your subconscious has detected it. Although you are focused on your show you start to feel hungry. A craving for McDonald’s develops as the show goes on and your hunger increases. It’s okay to treat yourself - besides, you’ve had a tough day. After justifying you desire, you go and get the McDonalds. It tastes so good. Your need is fulfilled, but although you’ve rationalised your decision, you are totally unaware of the trick that has been played on you. You didn’t really need to indulge yourself, but you have been convinced otherwise. And the worst part is that McDonald’s has just earned an extra few pounds from manipulating your inability to control your subconscious thoughts, and for the moment you still feel okay about your decision.

This is a form of subliminal messaging.

If we are to consider subliminal messaging in the form of a concealed image or textual element, it is there with the intention to encourage; it is there in order to brainwash or command. Could a subliminal command encourage a change of thought, a change of direction?

If we are to assume this technique is successful, instincts can be tested to perform or imagine something different to what would normally be considered correct.

Experimentation with opposing language (either complete opposites or just competing pairs) in subliminal imagery could determine how you respond, within the environment in which you are exposed to these manipulative visuals. Take ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ for example, a typical pair of opposing words - in this case, an affirmative and a negative. If the word
Yes was presented as a continuous image in the form of a video, you would be likely to understand and be empathetic towards the affirmation the word possesses. However, if this footage contained a single frame image consisting of the word No, that appeared too quickly for you to notice, the flash of this negative could affect your subconscious mind and change your reaction towards the word Yes to be one of a negative nature. Using this as a basis, there is potential for words to produce the opposite of their desired effects, or at least have effects that are different to those of their common associations, with the subliminal inclusion of opposing words.

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