Due to the complexity of the human mind, it has various levels of consciousness: the state of dreaming, conscious-rational and lastly the subconscious level. This last level is one which is not able to function through logic or reasoning abilities, and cannot differentiate between what is real and what is fictional.
Subliminal messages sent into the subconscious mind gives it the foundation to grow the message into reality. It is a form of thought-controlling, as there is a link of communication between the subconscious and the conscious mind, allowing it to affect each other. Hence, there is much controversy surrounding the use of these subliminal messages, as hidden persuasive messages have been used to influence audiences. Such incidents are commonly found in commercials and advertising, and in rock music. There has been much criticism on the use of insidious subliminal messages to maximize revenue.
Subliminal messages used in advertising or subliminal advertising, are most of the time consisting of brief visual or audio messages that our brain does not consciously register what it has seen or heard. Most of the time, there is less than 25% chance that the message will be picked up by the conscious, and is used to provide stimulus for action.
Subliminal advertising does exist. In actual fact, very little marketing agencies endeavor to input such messages due to the powerful impact that they can place on the audience, which would lead to overwhelming bad press that would be received if the subliminal message was found out. This puts off any potential benefit that the subliminal advertising may bring.
According to an April 2006 issue of the New Scientist, research has proven that subliminal advertising messages do work, under the right conditions. The researchers also found that priming only works when the prime is goal-relevant. In plain English, this means youre potentially going to buy a product that quenches your thirst only if you were already thirsty anyway. Subliminal messages are therefore more effective in priming a target audience to choose one brand over another, rather than in recreating an real need for the product.
While it is has yet to be sufficiently proven that the brief subliminal messages can affect your behavior without you knowing, it is still arguable that subliminal advertising can be more effective than normal means of promotional communications which people are consciously aware of.