Last Updated Oct 20, 2011 5:15 PM EDT
Subliminal advertising -- placing fleeting or hidden images in commercial content in the hopes that viewers will process them unconsciously -- doesn't work. Recent research suggests that consumers do sometimes respond non-consciously to cues they aren't consciously aware are there. Subliminal exposure to the Apple brand seems to make people more "creative" than if they are exposed to the IBM brand, for instance.
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But extremely brief stimuli that consumers are unaware they're looking at is still unlikely to give them the urge to go shopping. You're probably not feeling the urge to buy a bottle of Absolut right now, even though the joke in the ad above is that the words "Absolut Vodka" are hidden in the ice cubes (click to enlarge).
Nonetheless, people remain fascinated by allegedly subliminal messages in ads -- even though if something is truly subliminal you shouldn't be able to identify it, by definition. Most "subliminal" ads are happy accidents, or people seeing what they want to see. But some appear to be deliberate, or at least too good to be true.
Here are 10 of the best subliminal ads of all time