HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Subliminal Advertising on the Food Network

I was watching yesterday's episode of Iron Chef America (Morimoto vs Cantu). At the end of the episode, I noticed something weird flash on my TV screen. Since I have a DVR, I hit rewind and did a screen by screen play. Sure enough, for a split second there was a clear image of the McDonald's golden arches and the phrase "I'm Lovin It."

My first thought was that it was a cable or DVR error. Perhaps this screen was accidentally spliced from one of the McDonald's commercials. However, after viewing the commercials that aired during ICA, I don't think this is the case. The arches and slogan were significantly larger on the split second screen than they were in the commercials.

I'm curious if others who recorded the episode have the same image. It's in the 59th minute of the program, during the wrap up, but before the credits aired.

Is this a case of submliminal advertising? I know McDonald's is a sponsor of ICA, but I never expected Food Network to take it this far. Especially in this day and age when so many people have DVRs and can catch it. It certainly didn't leave me with any desire to go out and buy a Big Mac, but I found the whole thing to be kind of creepy.

What do you think?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Whoa...that's a good reason to stop watching. Kinda of dumb given the frame is full and bright red and yellow. Gee, wonder how that ad buy was arranged? "If you become a sponsor we'll throw in a subliminal ad for free, just to show we appreciate your business."

    BTW, just did a google search for FCC and subliminal messages. Turned up that while not illegal, the FCC states, "it's not in the best interest of the publc."

      1. re: broncosaurus

        Might not work but it's still sleazy.

      2. We watched last night live and didn't notice it (not unsusual). We happened to have DVR'd it at the time and after reading this post just re-watched the end....the McDonald's logo appeared there the entire time the scores were posted. It didn't seem that subliminal. Just another sponsored logo.

        Then again...us two cooking hounds did both have a rare craving for White Castle tonight(now satisfied, yum.).....heh, heh, heh. I won't do McDonald's, but White Castle, hey? What can I say? Could it have been those Golden Arches led me to fast food burgers at any cost?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Justpaula

          If you watch the video, this is independent of the McDonald's logo in the upper left corner you saw. In real time, there was a flash on the screen shortly after that logo disappeared from the corner. When played frame by frame it turns out a large McDonald's logo and I'm Lovin' It in a big red box is what flashed.

        2. What the F$$K!!! Just when you thought FN could not get any lower.

          1. Watch the youtube video -- the "subliminal" message is in addition to the logo -- just one full-size frame with the golden arches on a red background and the tag line "I'm lovin it."


            1. Scary. I believe it.

              1. Yes!
                Someone posted a video of this on youtube and I was like wtf that's so creepy!

                Anyway, I don't have cable so I didn't see it personally.

                1. How utterly sleazy. I hate Food Network.

                  1. Just brace yourselves for the b.s. PR spin of "it was a mistake!" "someone in the control room cued it before they were supposed to!" "blah, blah, blah".

                    1. I saw the flash...I thought I was freaking out....booo Food Network you truly have turned to garbage!

                      1. i doubt it is a deliberate ad. even if it is, don't worry. subliminal advertising/messaging is scientificallly proven to be ineffective.

                        1. Food Network is for people who are more interested in Big Macs than in real food anyway, so you can't blame them for sinking to this level. Why shouldn't they? It's for their core audience!

                          1. It's Food Network - should we really expect anything else? Should this come as a surprise? I agree with Kater - just goes to show you what market they're targeting. Unfortunately they're making bundles of money so don't expect anything to change. It is what it is - food garbage TV.

                            1. subliminal advertising does work actually. in fact, it works just as well as liminal advertising.

                              1. FN sucks! How dare they try to manipulate viewers into buying such unhealthy junk food!

                                1. The only way subliminal advertising can work is by getting people to notice it and talk about it (like this discussion...)
                                  Am I the only one who doesn't pay attention to even the OBVIOUS ads? In fact, if I notice an ad because it's particularly annoying, all it does it to put me off the product...

                                  1. 59th minute... what came after it? Could be a cue of some sort. Start local voice-over or something. I think it was far to crude and obvious to be something sinister.

                                    1. It's probably just an error from the local station because the timing for the commercial was off. I highly doubt it was intentional.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Danimal n Hustler

                                        If it was a timing incident, the 'flash' would have been a snipet of the very beginning of a Mickey D's commercial, not a 'poster' of the golden arches and a tag line saying 'I'm lovin it'

                                      2. Finally catching up on my DVR and saw this. Unbelievable!