McDonald’s And Food Network: Subliminal Advertising?

Reader Janeka sends in this video from You Tube. Someone was watching Iron Chef America when they noticed their screen flash red, and when they went back to see what it was, they found a McDonald’s ad on just one frame! Oooh, scary! It looks to us as if someone just screwed up, or was screwing around. Then again, maybe it’s an insidious attempt to brainwash food nerds into eating more quarter-pounders. Either way, it’s on You Tube now, so we guess the McTerrorists win. —MEGHANN MARCO


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  1. WindowSeat says:

    I’m not sure if Food Network’s core demographic has changed, but its more of a Junk Food Network now.

  2. Hoss says:

    I thought there were rules in advertising where there needs to be a set number of seconds between a show and an ad? Have they violated a FCC rule?

  3. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    When I used to watch Iron Chef a lot, the ads were always for shitty restaurants. Apparently people who watch the Food Network only like seeing good food on TV. IRL, Applebee’s city.

  4. homerjay says:

    that looked pretty intentional to me. I mean, if it were a mistake wouldn’t it more likely be of some random frame of a McDonalds ad rather than their well structured logo and tagline?

  5. Fuzzy, why do you hate middle america?

    someone needs to eat it. better them than ?

  6. edgesmash says:

    If the frame was an attempt at subliminal advertising, then some ad exec is way beyond the times. I’m pretty sure that subliminal messaging as this has been proven to not work. Not that Wikipedia is the expert on these things, but the sources sited by the authors of the subliminal messaging page ( seem to say subliminal messaging doesn’t work.

    However, maybe it did work. We’re now talking about McDonald’s, which may have been their goal.

  7. Kos says:

    Interesting legal question… can you put parts of your show on video sites like YouTube and edit them to include subliminal messages? The subliminal restriction only applied to broadcast (TV and Radio) I think, so maybe it is even allowed on cable tv.

    See and Public Notice Concerning the Broadcast of Information By Means of “Subliminal Perception” Techniques, 44 FCC 2d 1016, 1017 (1974).

    The FTC has a separate rule on highway billboards.

  8. Bobg says:

    Does anyone really watch the Emeril (Food) Network?

  9. I thought there were rules in advertising where there needs to be a set number of seconds between a show and an ad? Have they violated a FCC rule?

    I do know there’s a rule against having something on TV for only a frame or two. There’s an episode of Babylon 5 about Psi Corps and they put a fake subliminal ad for the Corps in the episode. The creator of the show said they had to leave the fake ad up for a certain number of frames because of the law.

    RE: the FCC…what we did in the commercial was totally legit. We researched and found that the FCC considers a subliminal to be 2 frames per second (out of the standard 24). So we made the blip 4 frames total.

    Under “jms speaks”

  10. This is bad, because at a local Arby’s they have the food network playing non-stop on their flat panels along with sports. Oh the humanity!

  11. Binkley says:

    I watch the Food Network, though not that many shows. I love Good Eats.

  12. Aston14 says:

    Hmm, I recorded last nights Iron Chef on my DVR, and checked it when I saw this. No Mickey D’s ad on this one. Maybe it was a dish network thing, I don’t recall ever seeing a mcdonalds ad on the food network before, it actually seems kind of out of place.

  13. CookiesEtc says:

    Food Network stopped being about food and all about celebrity chefs a couple of years ago. It’s the same time the quality of the shows dropped.

    Similar thing happened to TLC. It became more about the personalities and less about the learning. Because really, I like Miami Ink but what I am really learning (besides don’t get a tattoo from Yoji)?

  14. CookiesEtc says:

    and also, the Japanese version of Iron Chef is way, way better than this version.

  15. Wasabe says:

    I blame bizarro Tyler Durden.

  16. Magister says:

    I can’t stomach Iron Chef America, so they might as well pair it with McD’s…

  17. CaptainRoin says:

    Best America Iron Chef ever:
    Secret Ingredient —> PIZZA DOUGH!

  18. adamondi says:

    Why all the Food Network hate? I really like the Food Network. It is leaps an bounds better than the boring, stodgy cooking shows that PBS broadcasts. If the shows on Food Network are good enough to turn a chef into a “celebrity chef” as CookiesEtc puts it, then that must mean they are doing something right.

    As for Iron Chef America, you have to realize that the entire thing is done tongue-in-cheek. It is certainly not my favorite show, but Alton Brown is my hero now. So I will watch little snippets of it between Good Eats episodes.

  19. MeOhMy says:

    FoodTV is great, especially when you just want something in the background or are just sitting down for a few minutes and not actually intent on watching an entire TV show. Not so much the silly shows at night, but the actual cooking shows.

    Just about everytime I watch, which is often, I pick up some new technique or recipe idea.

  20. AcilletaM says:

    It’s the MTv question (from when they actually showed videos): is Rachael Ray on all the time because she’s popular or is she perceived to be popular because Food Network chooses to show her all the fucking time.

  21. Sunbun says:

    Ah, so that wasn’t just me.

    brb, Big Mac.

  22. suckonthat says:

    Have you ever seen America’s Test Kitchen? It’s like a cooking show with a consumer interest bend. They review ingredients and utencils as well as cook some delicious looking stuff. I do also love the Food Network (original Iron Chef was awesome when my friends and I originally couldn’t figure out if it was a joke or not, Iron Chef America: no thanks), but my cable is crappy and I don’t get it.

  23. Jesse in Japan says:

    Must… eat… Big Mac… must… eat… Big Mac. French Fries… French Fries… French Fries.

  24. theinsanefurry says:

    The only reason to watch Iron Chef America is Morimoto, other than that it is no better than Iron Chef USA. The only thing I find worth watching on the Bobby Flay Network is the re-runs of the original Iron Chef.

  25. Learethak says:

    I noticed the little red “M” too. I backed up to show it to my wife, since I couldn’t believe that Iron Chef fans = McDonalds fans.

    I guess those ad execs are getting desperate to capture us Tivo owners.

    I have DTV from my local telecom, so I have neither cable nor dish.