How Food Stylists Make Us Crave Junk Food

Mcdonald's Ad vs Reality

image: sobadsogood.com

Admit it, some of those commercials for burgers, tacos, and whatnot at fast food chains make your mouth water. When you go McDonald’s or Taco Bell or Pizza Hut, the actual product you get looks much smaller, less vivid and unappetizing. But you’re already there and the smell of the food kicks in to entice you to buy and eat every last morsel.

So why does the food look so much better in the commercials compared to real life?

Enter food stylists and Photoshop experts, whose job is to make the food look at it’s best. A McDonald’s PR person posted an instructive video on YouTube, which describes a full day photos hoot, with tens of buns and burgers, just to capture one Big Mac correctly.

The most perfect bun is chosen. A beef patty is given some tender loving care it would never see in a real time franchise setting. And the most visually appealing lettuce and pickles are selected. The cheese is gently melted and the ketchup and mayo are applied more carefully than makeup to a supermodel before a shoot.

Top camera equipment is used with lighting from 5 different sources, and hundreds of pictures are taken from multiple angles. Tens of video sequences are shot as well.

And then the Photoshop ninjas come in, removing any tiny blemish, adjusting hues and shades. The end result is no less than a work of art. More details at So Bad So Good.

This is no different than any other products big companies want to sell us, whether cars, clothes, or household appliances. But because food is so malleable, there is a huge difference between the advertised version and the real thing.

Do you feel cheated by these advertising techniques?

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  • PeaCat

    No, I’ve been on to them for years. Food stylists……a little known role in making food commercials – not just fast/junk food spots. I recall working as a production assistant on a commercial for a winery. The bottles of wine were the “heroes” and a full table was designed and arranged just “so.” Several racks of lamb and other food were cooked and styled. It all looked beautiful with the bottles of wine and glasses filled with the vino. After the shoot it was all THROWN AWAY! Substances were sprayed on the lamb to make it glisten “just so” on camera, but the lamb was rendered inedible in the process! Other food items were also specially treated. The food that wasn’t treated ended up spoiled by the end of the shoot. Not everything went to waste though. My fellow crew members and I did get to take home unopened bottles of some very nice wine.

  • Karen Giangrosso

    I understand them wanting to “show” all the ingredients that will be on your burger. That lets the customer know if they should say ask to have the onions held. Anyone should know that there will be a difference between the food in the picture and the one that the 16 yr. old just put together for them.

    • Brianne

      We all know that there is a huge discrepancy between food in advertisements vs what we get. Its more than visually apparent since our eyes are not the only sensory member screaming out the difference for us. However I feel like we deserve better. As consumers paying for a product advertised to us we should get something a little closer to what we were being bated with. There should be higher standards for what us served. One may even say its false advertisement.

  • http://www.worldclasslasik.com/cataracts/cataract-surgery-cost Cataract Surgery

    I would LOVE to eat a burger that looks like the advertisement!

  • Cactus_Wren

    It’s also interesting that any side-items in the photo — items other than the one actually being advertised — can be faked. If the ad is for milk, it has to show milk; but if it’s for cereal, the bowl of cereal can be doused with a mixture of milk and Elmer’s Glue-All. In an ad for ice-cream, they have to show scoops of actual ice-cream; but in an ad for cake, they can put on the side a neat scoop of tinted mashed potato.

  • Cactus_Wren

    It’s also interesting that any side-items in the photo — items other than the one actually being advertised — can be faked. If the ad is for milk, it has to show milk; but if it’s for cereal, the bowl of cereal can be doused with a mixture of milk and Elmer’s Glue-All. In an ad for ice-cream, they have to show scoops of actual ice-cream; but in an ad for cake, they can put on the side a neat scoop of tinted mashed potato.

  • ele

    Acually yes, advertisements always cheat.Its not just with burgers,but with anything else in life