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Part II of the Full Introduction


Some comments on terminology

The terminology used on the pages of the Subliminal World is to some extent eclectic and dependent upon the context. It is made clear that what is commonly called subliminal advertising is not, in fact, subliminal in nature i.e. does not fall below the limits of visual perception and can thus be recognised (with difficulty or when someone else points out the relevant imagery).

What is at issue is the ability of ads containing embedded or secondary imagery to influence viewers. These are traditionally labelled as subliminal ads. Use of this global term however makes it easy for professionals to deny responsibility for unethical conduct and to call upon psychological research studies into subliminal perception in defence of their arguments.

By disingenuous use of arguments focussing on subliminal stimuli members of the advertising profession distract attention from the equally unethical use of embedded imagery in ads. As subsequent commentary reveals, any stimuli around the limits of perception, whether supra-liminal (above the limit) or subliminal (below the limit), share the same characteristics i.e. the ability to influence judgements and attitudes without viewers being consciously aware of the image or message that influences them. The author therefore tries to use the term subliminal advertising only when it refers to historical issues or when discussing subliminal perception. In other instances the preference is to draw attention to embedded or secondary imagery in advertising and a variety of terms might be used e.g. embedded, secondary, semi-subliminal or borderline stimuli. For additional information view the Frequently Asked Questions.


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To the best of the author's knowledge none of the illustrations, in the format used on this site, are subject to copyright. If copyright has been inadvertently breached please contact the author in order to rectify the matter. All brands and logos referred to or illustrated on this site are the property of the relevant companies and copyright holders. However, commentary and other information produced by the author can be freely copied and distributed. Similarly, illustrations of ads, so long as they are accompanied by commentary or are presented in the form of parody, can also be copied and distributed but please acknowledge as the source. Translation of tobacco company ads and relevant commentary into languages other than English will be particularly welcomed.

Last Revised: 3rd January, 2003


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