McDonald’s have responded directly to criticism of their marketing images with a cunning marketing video showing how their marketing photos are made. Intrigued? We were too…
So – what does the typical takeaway from McDonald’s look like? And how does it compare to the ones in their adverts?
How does a McDonald’s burger compare to their advert photos? Enquiring minds want to know…
On an open forum for questions on the McDonald’s Canada website customers, including Toronto reader Isabel M, asked, “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what’s in the store?”
Using a documentary-style filming technique, the head of Canadian marketing department Hope Bagozzi enters a restaurant and orders a typical quarter pounder with cheese. She takes this to an ad agency, where the burgers are cleverly strategically assembled to be photographed. She says she wants to honestly show the difference between the two and the reasons for them.
Watch the video – then keep reading:
Their food stylist explains that “Because we’re in a one-dimensional [sic] world, in the camera, everything is in the back of the picture and we don’t know what’s actually in it,” to explain why so much of the toppings are visible in the photo. What we noticed when watching the video is that there is a large amount of transparency and honesty in their account of what happens. There is also logic to a lot of their reasoning and the minimal amount of Photoshop needed to create the final look.
There were a few things however that stood out to us. Firstly, this is a marketing video. Inherently, it has an agenda. It’s creation is to help customer relations and to help deal with a certain issue the customer has with the company’s product. So, at what point do we stop looking at this as a documentary as the filming style implies – and instead look at it as a bit of slick marketing?
It succeeds in multitasking to a certain extent, it does show their is a difference and it does go a way towards transparency but it also smooths over a few key facts. The food stylist prepared food does use the same ingredients, however the way they prepare them does make a difference – mainly to the burger.
Burgers shrink when they are cooked. Yes photographing a fully cooked burger comes out too dark and would need photo-retouching – but under cooking a burger makes it physically bigger than the final product, so the fact the original patty is the same size as a store one but the cooked size is not. It would be more honest to prepare a smaller patty undercooked so the final size is true to the real product. A bit of a logic trick but nevertheless a valid point as to the honesty of the marketing images.
The second point which people are already talking about is the ‘perfectly normal standard’ burger they purchase form the store. It looks quite well prepared to us – unless burger quality varies drastically from country to country, we would say that this ‘ordinary’ Top Hat (we mean burger) was actually specially prepared by a chef in the restaurant to be the best possible burger a restaurant can provide. Also, by making the film appear like a documentary in style it implies heavily that the film is unbiased – when it is a creation of the McDonald’s marketing team which in itself is slightly inherently leading… although we are really picking this apart and heading into ‘The Media is the Message’ territory with a microscope with that statement.
The only other point raising questions with this video is that on YouTube comments are disabled, when a video is released for transparency purposes based on a question in an open forum leaving comments open would have been a good sign as closing them will create more than a bit of controversy on the web. However hard policing such comments would be, it might have been worth the effort to keep the veil of transparency and open discussion present for the whole of the dialogue. This video acts as a full stop on that conversation which will mean people take any further comments elsewhere. Was this a good move? Time will tell.
However, please take a look at the video and judge for yourself – we also found a rather interesting video (via a clever bunny who commented on Mashable’s article on the Photoshopping of these burgers) which explores how burgers are dressed and prepared by another food company unrelated to McDonald’s but which is rather eye opening nevertheless!
So – which version of this burger is real? Are we smart enough to know and take into account that marketing images are created for a purpose and are not exactly what you receive in store? Is this dishonest or just the same as a holiday advert where every day is sunny or a computer advert where the machine never crashes? Please share your comments below as we would love to know your take on this marketing piece. Do you trust McDonald’s more, less or the same as before?
Spot the real burger:
Is there an odd one out? You decide!