Subliminal marketing means marketing with subliminal messages. Subliminal messages are messages that have hidden meanings. These messages aim to encourage the purchase of the product or patronage of a brand through subtle effects that are not normally or easily noticeable. In subliminal marketing, every detail is important, the graphics, the audio, every single detail, and deliberate in driving home the message. Subliminal marketing can be in the form of texts, images, videos, and logos and can be very effective. The beauty of subliminal marketing is, they are usually very eye-catching and clever, but not overpowering. There are plenty of examples you’ve likely seen many times without realizing it at the time, but still managed to change your perception of the brand. Here are some advantages of subliminal marketing.

1. Immediate stimulation: Subliminal marketing raises awareness in the unconscious portion of the human mind. It entices people to purchase a commodity without much consideration. It immediately drives home the point and sometimes leaves their audience smiling.

2. Instant results: Where other marketing has to be done for at least three times before they can be effective and before the brand can be registered in people’s mind, subliminal advertising only needs one exposure to turn their probable consumers into buyers. With just one television advert or a simple text or an image with provocative content, targets are met and the brand name is recognized and noticed. Significant changes are noticed with very little effort.

3. Brand exposure: People love creativity and as a result, they tend to remember unique brand logos, designs, images, and adverts for a very long time. This gives the brand an opportunity to push sales because when a brand’s name is registered in the mind of the audience, the next time they see the brand, there’s quicker brand recall followed by an instinct to buy the commodity. 

4. Thoroughly effective: Through subliminal advertising, a brand can practically control every psychological aspect of consumers. If done well, subliminal messages have the ability to really affect an individual.  

5. Cost-effective: In comparison with other marketing tactics, subliminal marketing is very cost-efficient due to its effectiveness. 

But, even as effective as it can be, subliminal marketing has its own disadvantages some of which are:

1. Can lead to Behavioural disorder: There is a belief that with its subtleness, subliminal marketing affects human behavior and compels them to do something they ordinarily wouldn’t have done. E.g buy a product or patronize a brand. Even though a survey has shown that this belief is not true as subliminal marketing only makes an idea attractive to the viewer or listener, this is still considered as a disadvantage of subliminal marketing.

2. Can be abused: subliminal marketing can be abused in the sense that it can be used to stimulate people to engage in harmful habits or to promote hazardous brands. For instance, the case of Marlboro and Ferrari. When the EU banned tobacco advertising in 2005 Marlboro was a sponsor of Ferrari – one of the most successful Formula One racing teams. Keen not to lose out on the visibility of this lucrative partnership, the cigarette brand decided to make the most of a legal loophole. Forbidden from plastering the car with the Marlboro logo, the brand opted to stamp a rather peculiar barcode on Ferrari’s racing cars. It was subtle but the message was passed. 

Subliminal marketing has been around for a very long time. The most well-known example of subliminal advertising occurred in the 1950s. The psychologist James Vicary tried out an experiment in which he flashed certain images in front of moviegoers at a rapid rate. These images were meant to influence them to do things. One of them was the phrase, “Hungry? Buy popcorn!” which was flashed for barely three-thousandths of a second. At that rate, people wouldn’t consciously notice the phrase. However, they would register the message in their subconscious. The psychologist made the claim that popcorn sales went up by fifty percent after that message was shown to viewers – which would have been a great demonstration of the power of this kind of advertising if he hadn’t later admitted that his study was fraudulent and this study showed how effective subliminal marketing can be.