On September 12, 1957, Vicary called a press conference to announce the results of an unusual experiment. Over the course of six weeks during the preceding summer, he had arranged to have slogans—specifically, “Eat popcorn” and “Drink Coca-Cola”—flashed for three milliseconds, every five seconds, onto a movie screen…the messages had increased soda sales at the theater by 18 percent and popcorn sales by 58 percent.
The public reacted with fury…
There was a glitch, however. Researchers tried to replicate Vicary’s findings…but none succeeded. After five years Vicary confessed that his so-called experiment was “a gimmick.”
—Stroebe, Wolfgang. May/June, 2012. “The Subtle Power of Hidden Messages.” Scientific American Mind.