Fast Food Advertising vs Reality

We’ve explored the many reasons to avoid fast food ad nauseam here on TreeHugger. (Although, in the good news category, Sara told us over the weekend that many chains have stopped using the now infamous "pink slime" in their products.) If you’re a regular TH reader you probably don’t need another reason to hate on fast food, but we’ve got one for you: false advertising. This deceit can be seen by anyone who has ever ordered a fast food burger but for the rest of you we now have photographic evidence. Dario D. over at Alphaila took the time to shoot pro-quality, studio photos of fast food he ordered at “places” near his home and compared them to advertising photos of the same product. (In Dario’s words, ‘I won’t say “restaurants”, just “places”.) The results speak for themselves.

Here’s the set-up from Dario himself:

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.

And it's not just burgers that fail to deliver.

Now, obviously a company advertising a product will strive to make it look as appealing as possible to entice customers, and fast food places aren’t the only culprits in over-selling their product. I’d say that mass-market toy ads are even worse when it comes to not delivering what they promise. As a father of two young boys, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given my kids a that-looks-cool-but-it’s-really-crappy-and-won’t-work-like-advertised talk. I can, however, happily say that my efforts have resulted in my six year-old saying, “that is a piece of crap” when he sees an ad for such a toy. (Usually after he’s seen the ad at least once before and we’ve had our little talk.)

I don’t expect Taco Bell, McDonald’s or Burger King to begin placing “real” products in their ads any time soon, but I’d love to see projects like Dario’s become a part of grade school curriculum to combat the school-age bombardment of advertising and to teach our kids some media literacy.

It's also just not the quality of product that these ads are misrepresenting. Some of the advertised products can't even fit into the disposable boxes designed to hold them.

For all the earnest vegans and vegetarians out there it’s another round of ammo with which you can try to convince all of your friends and family, and anyone else you corner at a party, that they should join you in your quest to rid the world of the horrors of eating animal products. You’re welcome.

Head over to Alphaila to check out more ad vs. reality comparisons. Dario D. also gives a good overview of his methodology, including specs on his studio and computer set-up.

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Fast Food Advertising vs Reality
Comparison of fast food advertising photography with photographs of the real product by Dario D

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