Marketing Moment 18: 1974 book ‘Subliminal Seduction’ talks sex, death and advertising

Wilson Bryan Key, the author of “Subliminal Seduction” is interviewed in our             feature documentary, “PROGRAMMING THE NATION?”

To celebrate the Ad Cluadvert_seductionb of New York’s 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.

Today’s marketing moment was chosen by Ann Green, SVP-creative development practice at market research firm Millward Brown. Below, see why Green chose the 1974 book Subliminal Seduction as one of her favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.

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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