A STRANGE THING HAPPENED...
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
|| Topics List ||