I fucking knew it! Subliminal messages were just too cool of a concept to not work. A new study (Attentional Load Modulates Responses of Human Primary Visual Cortex to Invisible Stimuli) has found that even when you’re not aware of an image, your brain is. As Science Daily reports:

University College London researchers have found the first physiological evidence that invisible subliminal images do attract the brain’s attention on a subconscious level. […]

Dr Bahador Bahrami, of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the UCL Department of Psychology, said: “What’s interesting here is that your brain does log things that you aren’t even aware of and can’t ever become aware of. We show that there is a brain response in the primary visual cortex to subliminal images that attract our attention — without us having the impression of having seen anything. These findings point to the sort of impact that subliminal advertising may have on the brain. What our study doesn’t address is whether this would then influence you to go out and buy a product. I believe that it’s likely that subliminal advertising may affect our decisions — but that is just speculation at this point.”

Now, Dr. Bahrami’s has a reputation to uphold, so he has to adhere to ethics and not outright say that cool-ass shit like subliminal messaging will make you buy shit, but when a scientist says that he believes that it may affest out decisions, it’s because he’s pretty much sold on the cause-and-effect relationship. Really, just think about it for minute: all advertisers have to do to make you buy shit is to get you to associate their product with things that you hold in high esteem. Then, the next time you have make a choice as a consumer, you’ll go the path that you (for some reason you just don’t get) associate with what you deem admirable. Take the example of male smokers and Joe Camel.


Not only are you going to associate the idea of smoking Camel cigarettes with being white-tuxedo cool, but with having a big dick. Basically, marketers play off of our need to project an image to get us to buy shit. Just like Camel goes after those who admire the suave playboy, Marlboro goes after those who see themselves as the strong, silent type.


This is what’s known as lifestyle marketing folks. Basically, consumers al fit into some lifestyle demographic. So as a marketer, all you have to do is determine which of those demographics would be most amenable to the consumption of your product (compare net disposable income against the population of the demographics in question) , and associate your product with that lifestlye. Then, if you’re half as good at your job as I am, you just sit back and watch the sheep stampede to the slaughter.

If you don’t believe me, just think of how Volks Wagen has taken this a step further with the Jetta Report. As the site unapologetically admits:

Doing for car culture what the Kinsey Report did for sex in the 50s

You now have the opportunity to contribute to the Jetta Report. This landmark study blazes a wide path through the automotive field, continuously collecting data on a myriad of issues and activities. It compares the values, behaviours, and attitudes of VW owners to those of the rest of the population. The resulst offer not only a peek into the life of the Jetta owner, but it also potrays a glimps of the Canadian psyche.

Not only is VW admitting that they lifestyle market, but they (and the Simmons Market Research Bureau) are trying to collect quantitative data about the lifestyle habits of their target demographic. Of course, they could then use these for cross-portotional purposes and future product development.

But more to the point, they can the develop future advertising campaigns to reflect behaviours and attitudes that potential VW buyers (re people who have the right income) can already relate to. Consequently, the next time their in the market for a new set of wheels, they’ll find themselves thinking about a Jetta without necessarily ever having been in one.

That’s how subliminal advertising works. It’s not some voodoo mojo that sends you scrambling to the check-out counter like a consumer-zombie. Rather, it sends you the message that if this is what you like, or if this is how you want to appear to others, this product was meant for you. Incidentally, this is exactly how smoking makes you look like a fire-breathing bad-ass.

Original story via Slashdot.

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