A $250 billion industry for your subconscious mind

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A $250 billion industry for your subconscious mind

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Virtually everyone in America feels personally exempt from the influence of advertising so wherever I go, what I hear more than anything else is, "Oh, I don't pay attention to ads, I just tune them out, they have no effect on me." Now, I hear this most often from people wearing Budweiser caps or Abercrombe and Fitch t-shirts. The more logos on a person, the more the person feels not influenced. The truth is that advertising influences us mostly subconsciously. The editor in chief of Advertising age, the major publication of the advertising industry once said only 8% of an ad's message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain. So we might see these images, you know, ten times, a hundred times, that doesn't matter. They stay with us and we process them over and over again, mostly subconsciously, and that means that they actually have more power rather than less and the main thing we need to do is to make these messages conscious because that reduces their power and gives the power back to us. Just in the United States, advertising is an over $150 billion a year industry. It's over $500 billion worldwide. The average American is exposed to over 3,000 ads every single day. Now, we don't pay conscious attention to these ads, of course, but that doesn't mean that they don't affect us.

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Jean Kilbourne, EdD

Author & Social Theorist

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses...

She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has served as an advisor to the Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

According to Susan Faludi, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture —advertising. We owe her a great debt.” A member of the Italian Parliament said, “Hearing Jean Kilbourne is a profound experience. Audiences leave her feeling that they have heard much more than another lecture, for she teaches them to see themselves and their world differently.”

She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. A more unusual tribute was paid when an all-female rock group in Canada named itself Kilbourne in her honor.

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