June 25, 2007

A Tricky Trick - Subliminal Messaging - Its now in Indian Politics!

Power of the subconscious mind is often not considered with enough seriousness by most of us. In 1957, market researcher James Vicary claimed that quickly flashing messages on a movie screen, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, had influenced people to purchase more food and drink. Vicary coined the term subliminal advertising and formed the Subliminal Projection Company based on a six-week test. Vicary claimed that during the presentation of the movie Picnic he used a tachistoscope to project the words "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungry? Eat popcorn" for 1/3000 of a second at five-second intervals. Vicary asserted that during the test, sales of popcorn and Coke in that New Jersey theater increased 57.8 percent and 18.1 percent respectively.

Vicary's claims were promoted in Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders, and led to a public outcry, and to many conspiracy theories of governments and cults using the technique to their advantage. The practice of subliminal advertising was subsequently banned in the United Kingdom and Australia, and by American networks and the National Association of Broadcasters in 1958.

Today, I sense something very similar to this happening in Chennai, India. DMK, the ruling party in the state has practically covered the city with posters of its supremo M.Karunanidhi and his son M.K.Stalin. Those hoardings which housed advertisements of Honda City and MRF, is today brandishing the pictures of the DMK Supremo and his son. This reminded me of the famous infamous art of advertising that used Subliminal Messaging.

With the elections approaching, the DMK has resorted to this never-before mass scale poster/ banner trick. People in the city notice these posters every time they hit the roads on their way- to office, to school, to shopping, to home, etc. Little do people realize the fact that their eyes captured the pictures of these two people more than the number of traffic signals.

I am personally against this kind of a marketing strategy, especially in the field of politics. I hope people in the city realize this and consciously take decisions when it comes to the D-Day - The State Elections. I wish this kind of political marketing is banned in the country.
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