I don't care that in 1974 the FCC issued an order saying that anyone knowingly carry subliminal ads was operating "contrary to the public interest."
I don't care that they've proven that the infamous 1957 "drink Coke" movie theater story is a urban legend.
I don't care that some people allege that the Disney animation classic The Lion King has a seen where the word SEX is written in the clouds. (Not sure who that's advertising for!)
I don't care that some people have seen the word RATS in a commercial George W. Bush ran during his campaign for President against Gore.
When a store owner makes a customer feel like they're the most important person in the room, that's subliminal advertising. When an on-line help desk staffer takes an extra three minutes to write a personal comment in a "we've fixed your problem" e-mail, when a customer service rep hops in the car to hand deliver a part that a client desperately needs…that's subliminal advertising.
When a Disney cast member whose job is sweeping up popcorn stops to give a little boy a sticker…that's subliminal advertising. When a lube drive through shop checks a worried woman's car, makes a minor repair and then refuses to charge her anything…that is subliminal advertising.
We can consciously deliver our brand through marketing messages, signage, and consistency. But all of that pales in comparison to creating a customer experience that delights and surprises someone.
That kind of subliminal advertising gets people to not only buy what you sell but to talk about their buying experience. That kind of subliminal advertising transcends loyalty and moves to love.
We should all be that kind of advertiser.