1974: ‘Subliminal Seduction’ book talks sex, death and advertising

Today’s marketing moment was chosen by Ann Green, SVP-creative development practice at market research firm Millward Brown.

Subliminal Seduction

In 1974, Wilson Bryan Key wrote the book Subliminal Seduction. In it, Key discussed how subliminal cues in advertising drive our decision making and included a host of examples that convinced us that marketers were “up to something.”

Other than helping us to recognize the word “sex” in an ice cube, it acknowledged that very often we make decisions about brands based on something “below the surface.”

I would dare say this book served as a precursor to much of the modern thinking about the brain and how we make decisions. Since then, many books have been written about the power of System 1 and System 2 Decision Making, including the seminal work of Daniel Kahneman, and in parallel, the use of neuroscience in the role of marketing and research has grown astronomically.

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