We’ve all seen examples of subliminal advertising in print ads over the years. I use the word “seen” loosely, because usually you have to look pretty hard to find that suggestive image that’s supposed to burrow itself into your subconscious and get you to buy! buy! buy!
Anyway, subliminal advertising on television is a whole different story. Freeze the action on the correct frame and boom! subliminal is now perceptible.
Here’s a subliminal ad discovered on The Food Network last year:
I’m lovin’ it.
Well, not so much. Like most people, I don’t want to be manipulated. But also because for years now, just about every academic study done on the topic has concluded that subliminal advertising doesn’t work.
Maybe I shouldn’t care.
After all, what good is subliminal advertising if it doesn’t work and it runs the risk of making people feel violated? Let’s answer that after you view this:
No, this isn’t subliminal advertising, though the person that posted it on YouTube thought it might be.
Mad Men, the critically-acclaimed AMC series from the writer and Executive Producer of The Sopranos is all about deception, lies, and the dark side of advertising. The tagline is “Where the truth lies.”
Call me mad, but AMC didn’t go far enough with this. They consider a significant prime time subliminal advertising campaign.
Here’s my rationale:
- The story is set during an era when subliminal advertising was a hot topic and top-of-mind with the American public
- Don Draper, the “Tony Soprano” of the series, would have used these tactics
- The PR and word-of-mouth they would receive would be tremendous
- And they have the perfect defense: subliminal advertising doesn’t work anyway, does it?Is subliminal advertising ever responsible? In most cases, absolutely not. It’s not message or ROI responsible. But I’d consider it one of the most responsible ways to promote MadMen.What do you think? And while we’re on the topic of past marketing tactics, is traditional marketing still worth your time?