Why do McDonald’s hamburgers look better in the picture?

As most of my friends and family, I believe that McDonald’s’ marketing is much better than their food. I think that’s the big reason behind the chain of restaurants being on top at the BrandZ list of the world’s most popular brands (#4 in 2012, only behind Apple, IBM and Google; and the next “fast food” company on the list being Starbucks at the far #42), and not that many people love their sandwiches.

Well, yesterday I found thanks to Twitter one of the examples of this amazing marketing. As part of their campaign “Our food, your questions“, McDonald’s Canada released this video explaining one of the always-there questions about fast food: why does the actual food look so different from the picture in the advertising?

I think the whole campaign is a great idea to engage with their public through new media, plus it’s like sending their promotional messages on-demand to their target. It gives users the opportunity to ask, and it gives McDonald’s the opportunity to give their answer and humanize the company (some of the answer are signed by different McDonald’s employees). But the video, and this style of non-produced video especially, is the perfect tool to achieve their goals: a human face answering directly a touchy question in a transparent and visual way.

I think the answer is perfect. They show a top executive of the brand going to a McDonald’s restaurant as if she did it everyday, they compare the “boxed” hamburger against the “pictured” one, they show some fancy photography tools and digital effects and they deliver they key message: the ingredients are exactly the same, we just take more time to prepare the hamburger so it looks at its best in the picture, that’s all. Oh, and the real one is not smaller, is just that the ingredients are hidden under the bun and the bun contracts a little bit because of the steam trapped in the box that keeps it warm.

Is it all true? Probably most of it, yes. Does that change the fact that their advertising is tricky -the final product doesn’t look like the advertised product? Not at all, but it provides a logical justification that consumers can accept. Does it change the quality of their food? No, I would still go to a different place when I want a hamburger… but I would definitely go to McDonald’s for marketing advice.

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One thought on “Why do McDonald’s hamburgers look better in the picture?

  1. There’s a few things amiss with this recreation of Le Big Mac at home. First, McD’s uses dehydrated not fresh sauteed onions. Second, no matter how strenuous may be their corporate denials, there is a not unpleasant taste of soy product in their patties. Third, and by far the most important element in this exercise in fast food verite: be sure to let the meat patties cool down to room temperature before assembling product–it is vital that the cheese not melt.

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