Americana: Subliminal Scenario

Back in the '50s, there was a fuss over a brainwashing technique known as subliminal communication. A movie theater found that if its films included tiny blips of commercials for popcorn and soda —moving past so quickly that the viewer did not consciously realize he was seeing them—popcorn and soda sales went up. These results were highly uncertain, though, and the technique was abandoned. Since 1957 it has been against FCC policy to permit subliminal techniques on television. Last month, however, the agency made an emergency exception.

The case involved an undisclosed Midwestern television station—reportedly KAKE-TV of Wichita, Kans. Over the past...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!