Advertising is a huge industry and has a perpetual influence on any economy. Although
visual communication lies at the core of advertising effectiveness, the power of visual
communication does not nearly receive the attention it deserves. One of the more
controversial areas of visual communication in advertising is called subliminal
advertising. In subliminal advertising, covert visual messages/images are used to
communicate with the audience. This type of communication occurs below the
threshold of an individual’s awareness. However, the question whether subliminal signs
do communicate or persuade has been debated for several decades. In this study, eyetracking
research was combined with qualitative research to determine the reaction of
individuals when being exposed to print advertisements containing subliminal embeds.
The study did not aim to explain if, how or why this subliminal embeds might work or
not; only whether they can be seen. According to the results, subliminal embeds in print
advertising can only be seen once pointed out to the respondents. However, a large
number of respondents’ eye-gaze were fixed on the subliminal embeds, even though they
did not report seeing it.