When I was little I always wondered how the kids in the TV commercials poured such perfect bowls of cereal. A crunchy layer of cereal three-inches thick sat on top of a pool of bright white milk. Not a single sugary nugget was disturbed; and none of it ever got soggy when it hit the milk.
That’s never how my cereal bowls looked, I can tell you that! I eventually realized that “as seen on TV” isn’t how it happens in real life. Things are always a little more soggy, a little less golden brown, a bit messier and disproportioned, and never as juicy as they look in the ads. But boy, those food photographers do a heck of a job because they still pull us in every time.
(For more food ads versus reality, check out this site!)
Is it ethical for advertisers to visually enhance their products for the photoshoot? Well, other commodity companies photoshop and air brush their models for ads every day. Is this any different? Not really. But can anyone blame them? If they did photograph and show you how their meal REALLY looks when it leaves the basking light of the heat lamp and hits your tray, would you go out of your way to get it? As consumers we’ve learned not to take certain advertising at face value. We’ve been conditioned on the mass market.
For example, we know that Happy Meals aren’t really nutritious, even if McDonald’s marketing stakes that claim while targeting kids with an irresistible ploy of toys and figurines. Now a public watchdog group in Silicon Valley, California has banned the fast food giant from including toys in their meals and marketing. Apparently they aren’t offering our kids “the best,” as they claim. Since when? Even so, is legal action against McDonald’s marketing focus necessary? What do you think?