[LINK] Aussie TV network guilty of subliminal ads

David Boxall david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Tue Oct 14 14:26:36 EST 2008

Richard Chirgwin wrote:
> I love this! ... "subliminal advertising" is banned although it's an
> urban myth, so Ten gets found guilty of doing something that doesn't
> work, and then the report says "let it off lightly with just a stern
> warning". I would have insisted it refund advertisers' dollars ...
> http://www.snopes.com/business/hidden/popcorn.asp
I reckon it doesn't matter if we don't believe it works - nor even if we 
believe it's been proven not to work.  What matters to me is that 
advertisers are trying to manipulate people's subconscious.  That sort 
or behaviour belongs in the "Don't even think about it" category.  If 
they find that one way doesn't work, then they're likely to try others - 
and there's a risk they'll eventually succeed.

In part, section 1.8 of the Commercial Television Industry Code of 
> A licensee may not broadcast a program, program promotion, station 
> identification or community service announcement which is likely, in 
> all the circumstances, to:
> ...
> 1.8.3 be designed to induce a hypnotic state in viewers;
> 1.8.4 use or involve any technique which attempts to convey 
> information to the viewer by transmitting messages below or near the 
> threshold of normal awareness;
Whatever we believe, there's evidently concern that viewers might be 
subconsciously manipulated.  Whether any known technique works at all is 
not the point: a healthy society will not tolerate the attempt.  Come to 
think of it, I reckon a healthy society wouldn't spawn an industry that 
would make the attempt.

Just what is subliminal?  ACMA has decreed a 2-frame flash to be in 
violation, but a 3-frame flash is permitted.  They're talking about 
fullscreen flashes, but what about smaller parts of the screen?  Last 
night's Media Watch 
<http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s2389916.htm> showed a 
scene from Channel Ten's "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" in which 
part of a graphic (to which viewers' attention was drawn by the 
commentator) flashed an ad for 12 frames.  The advertised product was 
Nintendo DS.  The title of the show gives an idea of the target audience.

Though is seemed to amuse Jonathan Holmes, the 2-frame flash is 
apparently well established in the century-plus history of subliminal 
messaging <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subliminal_message>.  It seems 
questionable to me though, whether it adequately covers all the bases.

For mine, anyone who tries this stuff outside a research lab should be 
burned at the stake.  But I was ever the traditionalist.

David Boxall                    |  When a distinguished but elderly
                                |  scientist states that something is
                                |  possible, he is almost certainly
                                |  right. When he states that
                                |  something is impossible, he is
                                |  very probably wrong.
                                                   --Arthur C. Clarke

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