Real-life McDonald’s burgers have about half the size and none of the excitement of the burgers in their advertising, and their customers know it. So Hope Bagozzi, McDonald’s Canada’s director of marketing, set out to explain why burgers look so different in McDonald’s ads than in real life in a new video that’s one of the best marketing moves we’ve seen from the fast food goliath in years…if you forget the fact that they admit their real products don’t look that appetizing, and ignore the parts of the video when they refer to burgers as “the product” instead of talking about it like real food.
In the video, Bagozzi talks to a photographer, food stylist, and photo retoucher at Watt International Photography Studio to reveal the tricks they use to make their burgers look so much more appetizing on screen. The studio’s team agree to photograph a burger from the store, and a burger prepped on site under the same lights, with the same camera in the same position to compare and contrast; here’s what makes the two photos look so different:
- Positioning: In a normal burger, everything gets stacked straight on top of the bun and patty; in a photo shoot, the stylists push everything to the forward edge of the bun, so that you can see the onions, pickles and condiments instead of just the bun, cheese, and patty.
- Styling: Aside from carefully positioning the ingredients, they also heat the cheese with a palette knife to make it look melted, and precisely balance the buns with mini-props so they stay in position.
- Photoshop: Bagozzi never actually says the word photoshop, but she does explain how a photo retoucher “finesses” the photo to make it look more appetizing. How could a real burger compete?
Bagozzi emphasizes that they’re using the exact same ingredients as they would in a store, but glosses over what happens in the kitchen (the video splices together quick clips of patties being carefully seared on a grill and buns being delicately removed from a fresh package; somehow, we doubt your McDonald’s meal gets such careful treatment). She also curiously refers to “the product” throughout the video…which doesn’t ease our fears that these burgers aren’t exactly real food.
We’re somewhat surprised that McDonald’s was willing to go out on a limb and expose their photo tricks, but we’ll applaud their “honestly” when they start addressing the nutrition problems with their food.
Check out the video and tell us what you think: