In 1957, when a market researcher named James Vicary claimed that a lightning-quick image of a Coca-Cola bottle—flashed for less than 1/3000th of a second on a movie screen—was enough to make the audience rush to the concession stand for a Coke, America was shocked and alarmed. If marketers could use hidden messages to get us to buy, couldn’t other nefarious forces use similar tactics to psychologically manipulate our behavior? The term ‘subliminal advertising’ was coined, and its practice was quickly banned in 1957. Since then, no-one has explored the potential influence of subliminal advertising.
Its potential negative benefits probably outweigh the positives, but one can wonder the power subliminal messages could have had in our overcluttered market space.