James Vicary is the one who pioneered this in 1957. He claimed that movie goers who were shown an advertisement for less than a second actually bought the advertised product. He had tested this on popcorn and Coco-cola. However scientists failed to see his results in the tests they had conducted. Vicary later mentioned that his results were fabricated.
A university in Netherlands is now doing research on this. They are now discovering that in right conditions a brand can be promoted successfully.
The researchers asked 50 participants to count a string of Bs on a screen while a 23-millisecond message was flashed. One set of participants saw the words Lipton Ice Tea while the other group got a meaningless word.
After completing this exercise the participants were asked to rate their thirst and were given a choice between Lipton Ice tea or a local brand of water. This 'thirsty 'people were likely to choose the Lipton Ice Tea when they had received the subliminal message.
In a similar exercise 105 volunteers were given a very salty sweet before being exposed to the subliminal message showed similar results.
The percentage of those who considered themselves thirsty chose Lipton tea message from the control group while only 20 percent of those who were thirsty and who were in the control group chose Lipton Ice.
According to lead researcher Johan Karremans the results indicate that subliminal advertising works only
when the advertisement is goal-relevant", The team's next step is to see how long-lasting the subliminal effects are.
The results of the study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.