An important goal in any capitalist society is to make money, often by selling goods and services. Business people create advertisements in order to attract consumers. With this in mind, it is no surprise that there are subliminal advertisements; subliminally embedding something that attracts consumers is a great way to help reach their goal. Consciously, however, people like to be in control of their thoughts. Awareness on this issue should be raised: people should know how advertisers accomplish these techniques, how they could be consciously realized, and why the public may need to be concerned with them.
Companies can embed messages into their advertising media in a shockingly large variety of ways. Probably one of the most well-known methods is quickly flashing an image onto a screen. Many people have heard of the theater incident in which moviegoers were flashed phrases urging them to eat popcorn, and buy cola. This is done with a machine called a tachistoscope which can flash frames lasting 1/3000th of a second at five second intervals. Although its legitimacy is doubted by some, using this to flash ads was supposed to increase popcorn and cola sales in the aforementioned movie theater (Subliminal Influence). Words can also be subliminally embedded in images. According to Wilson Bryan Key in Subliminal Seduction, a common example of this would the word “sex” which is subliminally inserted into all kinds of advertisements. Images can be embedded within images as well, such as disgusting representation embedded into Joe Camel’s nose (there is a picture on the Sex, Drugs, and Exploitation web site). Words are often embedded in music and background audio using a technique demonstrated in the audio section. Once someone realizes how many subconscious messages they could be receiving in a mere day, they often want to know how they can begin to detect them consciously.
It has been debated that the only “subliminal messages” that work are the ones that can be recovered through some systematic process. If it is completely obscured, then even the subconscious mind will not interpret anything from it. If a person is to consciously perceive a subliminal message, he or she has to be able to recognize signs of it, using some process to transfer it into a normal form. Back-masked audio can be simply be reversed again. Embedded images and words in pictures can usually be studied long enough to figure it out; if not, computers can easily enhance brightness, contrast, and other properties to bring out the hidden message(s). Frames flashed at 3000ths of a second can be gone through slowly until the “subliminal” shows up as conspicuous as anything else. It is possible to decipher a subliminal message.
Subliminal messages are there to do what they do best: influence people. They often are incorporated into ads to influence people to buy products, music for any possible reason, and other forms of entertainment in order to more money out of consumers. They do exist though, and they do influence people. The public should be more aware of this issue so they can at least have the option to start more legal action if necessary. No one can blame anyone that does not like advertisers telling them things they cannot even consciously perceive.