Skittles Picture (Source)
Subliminal Messages – Pictures or words which are not recognized by the conscious mind, but instead recorded in the subconscious. (Source)
Subliminal messages are widely used in the media for various reasons and since we are usually unable to consciously recognise them, subliminal messages make for very powerful tools for massive consumption. Unbeknownst to us, we have been imprinted with messages encouraging us to do something or providing us with certain information on something.
They can simply be graphics or information that designers add in simply for the fun it. Pixar often subliminally reference other films in their films. Most notably is the carpet of the villain in Toy Story, which is the same design as the carpet of the hotel in The Shining. In Toy Story, Sid was pulling apart toys and putting them in weird combinations, hurting the toys. Therefore the reference to the horror movie The Shining was apt in suggesting horror in the house.
It is widely known that “Sex Sells”, and it is not simply the primal instinct of sex that encourages us to buy something, but suggesting sex prompts us into a very suggestible state of mind which makes us more receptive of what we are viewing. 2 of the most controversial media giants who are known to widely use sex in their subliminal messages are Walt Disney and Coca-Cola. Even Skittles is believed to use sex in selling their candy, evident in the picture above where the word ‘sex’ can be clearly seen at the bottom of the packet.
However, subliminal messages can be more than just about sex. They are everywhere and since they are not recognized by our conscious mind, we usually do not notice them. While sex is the most often used tool, there are other ways that subliminal messages work their way into media to imprint information in our sub-conscious.