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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.

How to Keep Bullies from Eating Your McDonalds Fries

After Burger King called this German spot “degrading” to its brand, McDonalds agreed not to air it on TV. It remains available on YouTube. I wonder if that was the plan from the start.

More at Ad Age.

Top 10 Digital Advertising Trends of 2010

Todd Wasserman assembles the top 10 digital ad developments that defined 2010. On his list (published at Mashable): iAds; location-based advertising by Foursquare, Facebook and others; Promoted Tweets; group buying alerts offered by Groupon and others; and Isaiah Mustafa’s personalize videos distributed by Twitter @Replies.

Burger King Error Message Advertising

His list also includes two forms of advertising that have fun with internet pages that are otherwise annoying: CAPTCHA prove-you’re-a-human pages and error pages that result from typo entry into a search box, like Burger King did with Digg.

Congrats to Rob Shore, Chris Kobran, Dan Contento, Eric Hoppe, Veronica Tegen, Courtney Guertin and the rest of the crew at Digg that put that together!

Boot Dermocare and McCann Create Racy Ads for Thailand, Coverage is Global

Here’s a print ad for Boot Dermocare created by McCann Bankok, ostensibly designed for audiences in Asia, and presumably too racy for American magazine readers. (Censorship courtesy of the ChasNote design team; full version below.)

Boot Dermocare Knees Ad, Censored

Predictably, a wide range of US and UK advertising sites republished the ad. Is that the intent? Give North American and European brands and agencies plausible deniability (“Oh dear! That wasn’t us! That smut was created by a distant subsidiary when we weren’t looking!”), while at the same time providing them, through the magic of social media, a global audience for their more eye-catching if controversial creative? (BK is king of this practice.) Sneaky but smart.

Meanwhile, here’s the full version. You thought what?! Those are her toes!

Boot Dermocare Uncensored

(Hat tip to Nicole Williams, who as far as I can gather is the world’s leading authority on NSFW advertising creative.)

Burger King's Social Media Marketing Program For Facebookers Who Want To Be A Little Less Social

By way of a marking-campaign-as-a-Facebook-app, Burger King adds value to the social media experience for its customers: It gives them an excuse (and a coupon) for doing something they’ve all been meaning to do anyway, unfriending some of those “friends” you don’t actually know. So far BK’s Whopper Sacrifice has helped break up nearly 140,000 unwanted relationships.

BK Whopper Sacrifice

I owe you one, BK!

Burger King Didn’t Coordinate Brand, Search Campaigns

Oops. From David Berkowitz’s column in Ad Age The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D hd Testament movie download :

“The Whopper Virgins experience begins with a TV commercial with a brief teaser that directs you to The spot was compelling enough that I noticed the spot while watching the time-shifted ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ through my DVR; it’s running heavily during weekend football games. Go to the site and you’re treated to a video of Burger King running a Whopper vs. Big Mac taste test with people in Romania, Thailand and Greenland who have never eaten a hamburger before. It’s poignant and amusing, if you can tolerate the implicit ethnocentrism.

“What if you don’t remember the exact Web address and Google it? You still better remember the domain name. While ranks first in Google for ‘whopper virgins,’ it’s invisible when you omit the plural.”

If you leave off the s, Burger King’s own sites don’t appear in the first page of organic results, nor did it buy paid search ads to help direct those searches to Burger King. Get your agencies talking amongst themselves, Burger King!

Search Results for Burger King

UPDATE: Shortly after I Tweeted this post, Burger King’s BK Lounge Twitter identity noticed and is now following my every Tweet. Well done, BK, on Step One: Listen to the conversation around your brand. I’m waiting to see how BK Lounge participates in Step Two: Joining the conversation. Comcast does this well with @ComcastCares.

BK Lounge Twitter Feed