Truth In Advertising: Hamburger Edition

Awesome images at Alphaila compare real fast-food burgers to their advertised selves. Taco Bell, Jack In the Box and Burger King don’t perform so well on the truth-in-advertising scale, even when Alphaila “fluffed up the cheese” for them.

The winner, without much competition, is the McDonalds Big N’ Tasty.

Advertising that exaggerates a product’s virtues certainly is not new or uncommon. It may not be especially ethical, but you can see the logic in it. The point of advertising is to create an appetite for your stuff, so to speak. It’s only embarrassing (and perhaps a liability to your brand, if your brand affinity relies on consumer trust) when customers are presented with reality versus advertising at such close proximity. Ironic, then, that fast food restaurants make it so easy to do this visual comparison yourselves — as you eat their burgers. Again from Alphaila:

People around the world know fast food as one of the most reliable distributors of disappointment ever produced by the business world. We know that if we ever feel the need to complain about something, we can just grab a page out of a coupon booklet, adorned in pictures of juicy burgers, go to a fast food place, then have a party. Why, the places themselves usually plaster their walls with pictures of juicy burgers — often hanging right over your table — so you need only open your eyes to find something to compare your food with, while you eat it.

A little harsh, maybe. If we’re all so disappointed, why do we keep going back for more? I wonder if the popularity of fast food, despite the large apparent “disappointment gap” between their advertising images and the real items, is merely evidence that advertising need only get us in the door, and from there it’s our tastebuds (not our eyes) that will turn us into repeat customers. Marketing’s job ends at the restaurant’s parking lot; Product’s job picks up when you place your first order. If that’s the case, the argument for truth in advertising will fall on deaf ears. Lie, cheat and steal, if you must, to get people to try the product. If they don’t come back — if they’re disappointed — it’s not the fault of the advertising campaign.

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