Subliminal Advertising: The Secret Sales Pitch
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subliminal example

For Immediate Release:

Subliminal Ads Pop Up on Sci-fi Channel

The next time you turn on your satellite Sci-fi channel, you might ponder whether you are watching the Twilight Zone -- or part of it.

According to attorney August Bullock, subliminally flashed advertisements are sometimes inserted between the regular commercials and the shows. The subliminal ads are ordinary ads, promoting everyday items like cleaning products, computers, and eczema cream. What's unusual about them is that they only appear for a fraction of a second - far too fast to be seen consciously.

Bullock is the author of a The Secret Sales Pitch: An Overview of Subliminal Advertising, an "underground" textbook which argues that subliminals have long been used in media. The flashed subliminal ads were discovered by a reader who had taped the Sci-fi shows and was editing out the commercials for future viewing.

In the 1950s, an advertising psychologist named James Vicary claimed movie goers headed to the refreshment stand in droves after being subliminally exposed to the commands "Hungry? Eat Popcorn" and "Drink Coca Cola." Although he was later discredited, the controversy over subliminal advertising persists to the present day. In a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2002, high school students were subliminally exposed to pictures of a Coca-Cola® can and the word "thirsty" while watching an episode of the television show The Simpsons. The students reported feeling almost twice as thirsty as members of a control group, although they had no idea fleeting images were embedded in the program.

Flashed subliminal ads were used openly in the fifties, until a public uproar caused the networks to vow never to employ them. They were later prohibited by the FCC. Bullock speculates the Satellite companies might feel the FCC regulations don't apply to them because their broadcasting systems are private.


The ad at the top of the page was displayed for a fraction of a second on February 11, 2005, during the program Stargate Atlantis.

Our Index of Subliminal Messages documents 11 subliminal ads that appeared in 4.57 hours of programming in January, 2005, February 10, 2005, and February 11, 2005. The ad displayed above is Number 9. Additional ads were recorded on February 18, 2005.