by Joe Vitale
James Vicary, an advertising expert, went into a 1950s
movie theater to test his devious new tool for persuading
During the movie he allegedly flashed the commands
"EAT POPCORN" and "DRINK COKE" so fast that the
unsuspecting audience couldn't consciously see the words.
Vicary claimed Coke sales jumped 18.1% and popcorn
sales leaped 57.7%.
On that day, "subliminal advertising" was born.
Today subliminal advertising is banned by most major
countries. The FCC in America outlaws it by simply saying
subliminal advertising is designed to deceive. For that
reason alone it is forbidden to be used by any radio or
Still, self-help tapes that claim to have subliminal messages
hidden on them continue to sell to the tune of $50,000,000
The question I bring to the table today is this: Which works
better: Subliminal Advertising or Hypnotic Writing?
Vicary's famous movie theater test has been proven to
be a hoax. He didn't test it on the amount of people he
claimed (50,000, which the small town theater couldn't
hold), and he didn't keep an accurate count of popcorn
or coke sales. In short, he wanted subliminal advertising
to work in order to increase his consulting business as an
ad expert. But all the research shows his method did not
and does not work.
The same with subliminal tapes. Anthony Pratkanis and
Elliot Aronson, author of the fascinating book, "Age of
Propaganda," conducted studies to see if subliminal
advertising, and subliminal self-help tapes, actually worked.
Their research said it did not. There was no evidence to
support it. None. While people wanted to believe in
subliminals, they could not prove it worked to even the
Hypnotic Writing, on the other hand, is not devious. It is
not hidden. It is not illegal. It is designed to influence
people with words---obvious words, seen consciously
right on the page or the screen. It uses stories, active writing,
strategic sentence structure, and more, to achieve results.
Subliminal advertising doesn't increase sales. Hypnotic
Writing does. Subliminal advertising allegedly works below
your conscious level of awareness. Hypnotic Writing works
on your subconscious mind by using your conscious mind
to get there.
Look at it this way:
An example of subliminal advertising might be the famous
claim that "images" in ice cubes in a liquor ad look like
naked women. Well, you have to treat the ice cubes like
Rosarch Test ink-blots in order to come to that conclusion.
And even if there were faint images of naked women in the
ice cubes, would that really influence anyone to buy more
An example of Hypnotic Writing might be a story-oriented
sales letter, such as the famous one I wrote that people are
using as a template for their own letters. My letter began,
"I'm nearly in tears..." It then told a story of how my latest
book was influencing people to go for, and get, their dreams.
The story let the sales message get into the readers. More
importantly, more copies of my book sold. Hypnotic Writing
In short, subliminal advertising is not only questionable, it's
Hypnotic Writing, on the other hand, is legit and it gets results.
Joe Vitale is recognized by many to be one of the greatest living copywriters. His latest project, the Hypnotic Writer's Swipe File is a collection of over 1,550 copywriting gems that took him years to compile. Click here to learn more. www.roibot.com/tk_hwsf.cgi?hwsfartnl