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Fast Food Ads Versus Reality

Have you ever gone to some fast food place, taken a look at the pictures on the menu and decided that, despite what you know about fast food, it looks pretty darn good? Then you order it and WTF? Is this the same meal? Well the folks over at The West Virginia Surf Report have decided to start a comparison of fast food ads vs real fast food photographs. There's a lot of debate as to whether or not this is a fair comparison (after all the ads get great lighting and color correction, so maybe the real pictures should have better lighting and color correction), however it is still pretty telling. The picture above shows Taco Bell's Nacho Bell Grande and if you ask me, no amount of lighting, color correction or soft focus lenses would make the one on the right look nearly as good as the one on the left. Some of the ads don't look nearly as terrible as the others - and some look bad no matter what, the fish fillet looks sort of odd and bland even in the ad photo - but don't take my word on it, go ahead and judge for yourself.

What do you guys think? Do you think it's fair to compare them? Is it bad for advertisers to use the images they do?

Also, this isn't the first time this has been done. In fact just last month The Consumerist ran a comparison of the Wendy's 4 Alarm Spicy Chicken ad vs a real picture.

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Join The Conversation
SugarLove25 SugarLove25 8 years
Look at the model picture...no fast food has time to perfectly place those chips..I am a proud lover of taco bells nachos. they are soo delicous. appearnace only matters to a certain degree. If you are goung to be picky then don't get fast food. period.
Underdog Underdog 8 years
Mcdonalds Food is so Small and So fatting, Why do think I eat at subway when Go out,
aras8218 aras8218 8 years
I think it depends on the peaple in mgt at your particular fast food restaurant, my Taco Bell does a pretty good job of making it look like the picture.
designergirl designergirl 8 years
Those nachos look disgusting. Hopefully, we all were smart enough to know not to expect the food to look like the ad, though. I don't think this is too shocking.Fast food is gross- except for McDonald's fries when you're on a road trip.
designergirl designergirl 8 years
Those nachos look disgusting. Hopefully, we all were smart enough to know not to expect the food to look like the ad, though. I don't think this is too shocking. Fast food is gross- except for McDonald's fries when you're on a road trip.
haze1nut haze1nut 8 years
fast food can't worry about looks bc if they do it'll end up being called slow food. but yeah, those nachos don't look appetizing but if you put it in front of me i'd probably eat it
mississippigirl1 mississippigirl1 8 years
I used to work at Subway, and because I am a perfectionist I always got told I made "beautiful" sandwiches. ha ha
rawkphish rawkphish 8 years
i love fast food but not so much nachos.
rawkphish rawkphish 8 years
i love fast food but not so much nachos.
crispet1 crispet1 8 years
Fair game.
crispet1 crispet1 8 years
Fair game.
redsugar redsugar 8 years
I can see having nachos in the morning. Apparently you have never done shift work. I'd have to be pretty damn hungry or really toasted to buy them in a convenience store.
redsugar redsugar 8 years
I can see having nachos in the morning. Apparently you have never done shift work. I'd have to be pretty damn hungry or really toasted to buy them in a convenience store.
t_hive88 t_hive88 8 years
Fast food is just gross anyways. I'm totally with tify on this one. I'm a vegetarian, so I can only get fast food at Mexican restaurants because there's nothing for me really at Burger King, Wendy's, or the other burger joints. "Aint nobody out there swift like this."
ALSW ALSW 8 years
I agree, Schaianne - the taste is important, but at least have it looks maybe a little similar!
Schaianne Schaianne 8 years
I want my food to look SIMILAR to the picture at the very least. Yes, taste is more important, but jeez.
krisua krisua 8 years
I don't care if the decorations are the same as at the picture! It's the taste that counts.
mandiesoh mandiesoh 8 years
ultimately it all depends on the ethics of the company. in the advertising world there is this huge debate about being "socially responsible" and being "ethical". but at the end of the day, there are laws about it. so no matter how peeved we are there's basically nothing we can do! also, i've done food photography before, and they DO dress up the food with all kinds of shizz. its unbelieveable. and, having working in F&B before, i would say that it IS possible to give a paying customer and presentable and good tasting meal that is not too far from the ads under 15 mins! :)
mandiesoh mandiesoh 8 years
ultimately it all depends on the ethics of the company. in the advertising world there is this huge debate about being "socially responsible" and being "ethical". but at the end of the day, there are laws about it. so no matter how peeved we are there's basically nothing we can do!also, i've done food photography before, and they DO dress up the food with all kinds of shizz. its unbelieveable.and, having working in F&B before, i would say that it IS possible to give a paying customer and presentable and good tasting meal that is not too far from the ads under 15 mins! :)
reeses93 reeses93 8 years
They are required in the US to photograph the food that is actually offered for sale. However, it doesn't mean they can't pick out the 20 best tortilla chips, the twelve best olive slices, etc., and style them together into the Platonic ideal of a Nacho Bell Grande but that food would actually be found at a Taco Bell. For the garnishes and parts that aren't part of the dish, they can do the famous substitutions such as glue for milk in cereal adverts or boxes, etc.It's actually <a href="http://www.shutterbug.com/features/1204insider/">very stressful</a>.All that said, it doesn't mean it's a pleasant surprise to open your tastefully-wrapped double greaseburger with cheese, Pikkel (tm), and extra mystery sauce and discover it resembles a melted hockey puck more than it does the photo on the menu.
reeses93 reeses93 8 years
They are required in the US to photograph the food that is actually offered for sale. However, it doesn't mean they can't pick out the 20 best tortilla chips, the twelve best olive slices, etc., and style them together into the Platonic ideal of a Nacho Bell Grande but that food would actually be found at a Taco Bell. For the garnishes and parts that aren't part of the dish, they can do the famous substitutions such as glue for milk in cereal adverts or boxes, etc. It's actually very stressful. All that said, it doesn't mean it's a pleasant surprise to open your tastefully-wrapped double greaseburger with cheese, Pikkel (tm), and extra mystery sauce and discover it resembles a melted hockey puck more than it does the photo on the menu.
bearbizzle bearbizzle 8 years
That taco bell looks like a pile of crap...literally.
SU3 SU3 8 years
hot chocolate and nachos?! :SICK:The burgers look so sad compared to the ones they advertise.
SU3 SU3 8 years
hot chocolate and nachos?! :SICK: The burgers look so sad compared to the ones they advertise.
colormesticky colormesticky 8 years
I'd still eat it. I'm with Geek on the 7-11 nachos, though. Barf!Hope you feel better, Geek. :)
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