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Thursday, Apr. 26, 2007 at 11:58 pm

Subliminal Advertising? It’s a Subliminal World!

By Dave Young
April 26th, 2007

Don’t you just love tracing back the connections to everything? Jeffrey and Bryan were driving from Dallas to Austin this morning to get in town for their Call to Action Seminar and saw a bunch of taxidermy billboards. Meanwhile, I was flying in to Austin from my hometown which is headquarters to Cabela’s, world-famous for the taxidermy displays in their retail stores. (I’ve actually heard people call it the “dead zoo” but you can’t get away with that where I live.)

Fast forward a few hours and the three of us are having dinner at Estancia, a new Austin Churrascaria (Brazilian Barbecue). I mention that if they had wild game on the menu, you could start one of these in my little town of 6,200 people because the Cabela’s boys would keep it very busy. We share a laugh, which is then cut short by the Gaucho waiter bringing more leg of lamb past the table. Mmmmm. A nice hint of mint.

Done with dinner, we’ve beached our stuffed selves onto the furniture at the hotel and Bryan says, “You’ve got to see this YouTube video on subliminal advertising.” What brought that up? I hand him my MacBook and he quickly finds the video. Pretty cool. It all makes sense now.

I have some questions for you after you watch it.

What unspoken positive messages are you giving your customers? (on your website or in your store).

What unspoken negative messages are your customers taking from your place?

Are you giving them the ammunition they need to create positive word of mouth or negative word of mouth?

Add Your Comments

Comments (12)

  1. I wonder why this video has suddenly made its way around the world. 2nd blog in 2 days I’ve visited to see this. Was in TV a few years ago, if I remember rightly.

    Still, great video.

  2. Good question Tom. Perhaps the Planet Earth series has revived an interest in taxidermy? (I hope not.)

    Here’s an example of the type of subliminal message I’m talking about. The place where I get my hair cut has half a dozen 8-foot flourescent fixtures for lighting. The bulbs are a mixed match of hues, some look yellow and some look white.

    The salon 2 blocks away is lit with direct lighting fixtures at each station.

    Both have adequate lighting to accomplish the task at hand.

    Which salon can charge more? Is your confidence in the stylist slightly higher or lower because of the lighting? What about the stylist’s own confidence? When she turns you to have a look in the mirror, which lighting will make you look better?

  3. [...] Subliminal Advertising – This is fantastic… hat tip to GrokDotCom. [...]

  4. Power of pervasive subliminal advertising…

    Dave Young at GrokDotCom, who work with Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg (or, is it Bryan and Jeffrey – not quite sure) writes about subliminal messages, are how subliminal stimuli are very powerful and shape our future perceptions and ideas.Dave …

  5. Hi Dave,

    Another good point. For example, since we redesigned our website ( is the old version) into ( people perceive us to be more expensive, and therefore are more qualified to call us. Furthermore, because of the perception of quality, we’ve put our prices up, as otherwise people are suspicious of why we’re so “cheap”. Strange how the subtleties can sometimes be the consumers own downfall.

  6. Tom,
    If the consumer walks away feeling better for having purchased a product with confidence (albeit more expensive) rather than doubt can you really consider it a downfall?

  7. Dave,
    Great reminder of the power of our subliminal thinking. I am immediately going to review our websites to see what visual messages we are sending. Also gives me some ideas for additional graphics.

  8. Subliminal Advertising British Style…

    My friend and blogging mentor Dave Young from Branding Blog has a post over at about the subliminal advertising in this video. It’s 6:39 and a very clever turn of the tables on some UK ad agency execs….

  9. Dave-

    While I agree with your noticing the small things that make a difference I’m surprised at your poor choice in words (not at all a small thing).

    By its very definition, subliminal refers to environmental stimuli that is not noticeable by the concious mind. So, your use of the lighting example in a salon is not subliminal at all but rather a simple environmental stimuli.

    The classicly referenced example of subliminal advertising is the movie projector that flickers,”Drink Coke”, so quickly that it is not noticed by the audience’s concious mind. The advertiser (the movie theatre owners) hope to subliminally influence the audience’s behavior towards buying more Coke during the movie.

    The salon lighting is simply a behavioral modification technique, similiar to playing quick tempo music in a restaurant setting with the hopes of increasing the table turn vs slower music that will slow down table turn but increase avg ticket prices.

    Make sense?

  10. Yes Dan, technically you are correct.

    Is the average person consciously aware of the intentional lighting choices made by a business owner? What if the business owner made no intentional choice and is “subliminally” driving away traffic because of crappy lighting?

    I think we’d be splitting hairs over what’s subliminal and what isn’t.

    The point is to work toward a gestalt that is aligned with the purpose of your business and the goals of your customers. Work on everything you can think of, and when you can’t think of anything else, bring in some outsider who can point out even the environmental stimuli that have become subliminal to you inside your own doors. (again, an incorrect use of the strict definition, but I think you get the point.)

  11. The “Subliminal way” is but an illusion and is not supported in research. Read more here if interested:

    Marketing has since long ago come to understand that there are much more efficient ways to “indoctrinate” consumers.
    Stockholm Institute of Communication Science

  12. How could we turn this web site around with more subliminals etc?

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