Wilson Bryan Key

Wilson Bryan Key Ph.D. (January 31, 1925 – October 8, 2008) was the author of several books about subliminal messages and subliminal advertising.

Wilson Bryan Key
BornJanuary 31, 1925
DiedOctober 8, 2008
Alma materUniversity of Denver
SubjectMedia theory, propaganda


Key obtained his doctorate in communications from the University of Denver and taught journalism for a short period of time at the University of Western Ontario. He was a colleague and friend of Marshall McLuhan.

In a 1990 Reno, Nevada, court case against Judas Priest regarding subliminal messages and a suicide pact between two young men gained international attention. Key advised the plaintiffs lawyer to hire Bill Nickloff, an audio engineer, to find the subliminal messaging;[1] however, the Judge found that the band and the label, CBS Corporation.,[2] were not responsible.


Key died following complications resulting from surgery. He is interred at the Northern Nevada Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nevada.[3] He was survived by his wife and three daughters.


His results and conclusions have been challenged, in books including the following:

  • Boese, Alex (2006). Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S.. Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0-15-603083-7.
  • Moore, Timothy E. (Spring 1992). "Subliminal Perception: Facts and Fallacies". Skeptical Inquirer. 16 (3): 273–81. Reprinted in Encounters with the Paranormal: Science, Knowledge, and Belief, edited by Kendrick Frazier, Prometheus Books, 1998, 253-63. ISBN 1-57392-203-X
  • Pratkanis, Anthony R. (Spring 1992). "Myths of Subliminal Persuasion: The Cargo-cult Science of Subliminal Persuasion". Skeptical Inquirer. 16 (3): 260–72. Reprinted in Encounters with the Paranormal: Science, Knowledge, and Belief, edited by Kendrick Frazier, Prometheus Books, 1998, 240-52. ISBN 1-57392-203-X


  • Subliminal Seduction: Are You Being Sexually Aroused By This Picture? a.k.a. Ad Media's Manipulation of a Not So Innocent America (1974). Introduction by Marshall McLuhan. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 73-5421.
  • Media Sexploitation (1976). Prentice-Hall, Inc. ISBN 9780135730065
  • The Clam-Plate Orgy: And Other Subliminal Techniques for Manipulating Your Behavior (1980). Signet.
    • reissued as Subliminal Ad-Ventures in Erotic Art (1992). Branden Books. ISBN 0828319510
  • The Age of Manipulation: The Con in Confidence, The Sin in Sincere (1989). H. Holt. ISBN 0819186538, 9780819186539

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Solotaroff, Ivan. "The Stacks: The Judas Priest Teen Suicide Trial". thedailybeast.com. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  2. ^ Grow, Korey. "Judas Priest's Subliminal Message Trial: Rob Halford Looks Back". RollingStone.com . Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  3. ^ "Wilson Bryan Key". Find a Grave. Retrieved June 20, 2014.

External linksEdit