Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Does Subliminal Advertising Still Exist?

I’m going to break away a bit from tech today, because a topic arose out of the blue last night that I just couldn’t resist touching upon. I was watching the season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen, a really neat reality show where aspiring chefs basically get beaten down by world-class British chef Gordon Ramsey. Naturally, I’m PVR’ing it at the same time in order to skip through the commercial breaks. All of a sudden, my significant other starts rewinding. “What are you doing,” I ask him, having been deeply engrossed in the drama that was about to ensue. “I just want to check something I thought I saw,” he exclaims.

Sure enough, sitting on the table beside two girls as they gossip after a grueling day in the kitchen is a take-out bag from Mr. Sub. Yes, the Canadian franchise. The one that doesn’t exist in the States. The show is American, broadcast by Fox. Now, I’m pretty sure none of the contestants took a hop across the border to grab a cold cut trio on their break, so how did it get there? My guess? Strategic (and paid for) product placement.

Is this simply a clever form of advertising, or deceptive marketing? Had my partner not pointed out the bag donned with the clearly identifiable red “Mr. Sub” logo, I may have stepped out at noon today with a strange craving for a submarine, and no idea why. Frankly, what I find more disturbing is the implication that a group of people who are supposed to be great culinary artists are wolfing down subs in between making scallops and fois gras. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mr. Sub, but it is fast food, no matter how you slice it.

In a similar situation on The Food Network, a viewer noticed a McDonald’s logo had quickly flashed on the screen during an episode of Iron Chef America. When he played the segment back on his PVR, the logo was caught in freeze-frame. The video can be viewed on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMzbwa6PvEE&mode=related&search.

I am still trying to grasp my head around why fast food joints would want to advertise their goods while you're watching mouth-watering dishes being made by world-class chefs!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heres something very interesting in response to your post.

I too noticed the Mr Sub bag on the table last night... then I got distracted and couldn't finish watching the show, so I downloaded it today...

Guess what


being Canadians, we're subject to simulcast rules, so even if we watch it on Fox, if its being aired at the same time on a Canadian network, we get the Canadian feed... and as such, it becomes apparent that they DO place subliminal messages in it.

I wish I could get a screen cap of each, but needless to say, I was appalled at this revelation