The creator of this website is Professor Michael D. Robbins. Although I am affiliated with a college, the site is my own. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employers.

I became interested in the controversy over subliminal advertising in the early 1970's after reading the books of Dr.Wilson Bryan Key: Subliminal Seduction, Media Sexploitation and The Clam-Plate Orgy. To me, the reproduction of supporting photos was mostly poor and unconvincing. I was fortunate to meet Bill on several occasions, but was still skeptical. Bill challenged me to find some examples for myself.

I did, lots of them, and gradually began to sort them into groups by types and techniques so I could use them as a unit in classes I'd been teaching at the Allegheny Campus of the Community College of Allegheny County, in Pittsburgh, PA. I have also done presentations for community groups.

Once, when Bill Key was sick with walking pneumonia, he recommended me as a substitute for a presentation he was to do at a luncheon for members of the Pittsburgh area's professional advertising and marketing associations.

Some attending were openly hostile before I was introduced. Surprise! They had been expecting bald Bill but got long-haired Mike Robbins instead. Most claimed to have read Bill's books, but many later admitted they had not.

Many slides I showed that day are reproduced on this site. After the presentation, during a question period, many said the slides were eye-opening. Some were visibly upset. A few expressed anger that I dared discuss this subject. Others were alarmed that they, as professionals, were (by implication) being accused of something they took no part in. I said that only a tiny number of people in any corporation or agency need be involved.

Afterwards, off in a hall, or afterwards on crowded city streets, others--one at a time--caught me and sheepishly admitted that they, directly or indirectly, knew of such manipulations. However, every one of them expressed fear that any public comments they might make would land them in court, being sued for contract violations, or on the street, fired, and with a repuation that would end their careers in business.

That's because anyone involved must sign written confidentiality agreements. These are contracts that forbid employees to disclose any corporate secrets relating to methods either to competitors or to the public. That includes keeping secret the results of proprietary research done by the company and never published outside the company. That would include accumulated research showing how to best use subliminal cues in advertising.

In fact, as we know, the very existence of subliminal advertising is denied. But what else would we expect all those employees and artistic service providers who have signed non-disclosure agreements to say. Companies must maintain the illusion that they are playing fair with consumers, who supposedly get to make up their own minds, freely.

NOTE: Many readers thought Bill Key sometimes exaggerated. Short-term, it seemed to be good for book sales. Long-term, sometimes that hurt his case. I tend to go the other direction. But, of course, you be the judge. In any case, thanks Bill, for helping us to see better.

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