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Wave after wave, time and time again, the hidden persuaders rear their ugly head to a new generation of unsuspecting consumers for whatever reason. Ever since James Vicary first began blinking the words "popcorn" and "soda" for one frame every few seconds in his movie theatre, two distinct groups of people were born, those who tried to find new methods and uses for Subliminal messages, and those who became obsessed with spotting them. So obsessed in fact that they became quite certain that Ritz crackers were secretly giving off sexual messages. I'm not making this up! Honest! They said that the little holes in the Ritz crackers were arranged in such a way that the letters S, E and X could be seen.
Every generation has it's nutjob cases with their crazy stories and I'm sure only the really juicy ones have been publicised well enough for us to still know about them. Things like the "ghost" in Three man and a baby. Ozzy Osbourne's "Get the gun get the gun get the gun, shoot shoot shoot shoot!" Which allegedly lead several teens to kill themselves in the eighties. The word sex in the lion king. The penis on the original slip cover for the little mermaid videocassette. And apparently, if you listen to the tickle me elmo dolls backwards, he shouts "Ha ha ha, what the fuck!?" The list goes on and on. Even I spotted a Gap ad where a suggestively shaped tree branch was juxtaposed directly between the model's legs. Gap using subliminal advertising? Can you imagine? =\
What you've gotta wonder is, how much of it is part of a hidden persuasion plan and how much of it is just a big joke that the advertisers are pulling on us. I'm reminded of a Pink Floyd song called empty spaces. I you play the song backwards you hear a voice in the background giving out phony fan club information. It goes something like "congratulations, you've found the secret message, send your responses to 'old pink' at the funny farm". I don't know about you guys, but If I had access to any large scale advertising medium, I'd pull every silly prank in the book. Orgies in the ice cubes, the face of in the fireplace, and a whole other story would unfold if you backmasked the ad! But that may just be me.
Of course, the other big possibility is that if you are told there is going to be some sort of Subliminal messagE in something, you believe so hard that it'll be there and you eXpect to see something so badly that you begin pulling things out of the clouds in a desperate attempt to spot it. How many of you can honestly say you would have noticed my sex message had I not written an entire article on subliminal ads. Okay I'll admit, maybe my approach was not all that subtle, but you'd be amazed at what people won't notice if it's not pointed out to them.
Go here to check out the little mermaid thing, you be the judge...
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