Why McDonald's Burgers In Adverts Look Different To How They're Served

It was the great Bill Bailey who asked the seminal question: "Who photographs kebabs?"

Since then, I've never been able to look at food photography in restaurants without the thought crossing my mind that someone was paid actual real money to take those pictures, and that someone advertises themselves to restaurants as a kebab photographer, and that someone signed off on the images as a good look for their restaurant...and so on.

Deep down, I've long known that the images of food in McDonald's advertising were not exactly as they appear in the actual restaurants - because I've eaten more than my fair share of Maccies - but never in my wildest, nugget-induced dreams, did I imagine that as much effort went into it as is shown in this amazing video.

In it, Hope Bagozzi, McDonald's Canada's Director of Marketing and owner of one of the greatest Canadian accents I've ever heard, deep dives into the whole process of making publicity images for Maccies burgers.

She buys an original, so we can see what it looks like - though if you don't know what a Maccies burger looks like, you've probably been living on the moon - and then compares it to the set up in the McDonald's photo studio, which includes all the constituent parts of the burgers, cooked as they would be at Maccies, but then arranged and photoshopped so that they, you know, look nice.

Because we all know that, much as fast food burgers look great and generally taste great, they wouldn't look all that appetising if you threw them up in 5m high technicolour on a billboard without a little digital magic.

"Nothing is just plopped down and put in the centre like it is when you order at a restaurant," says Jean Ann Bybee, a food stylist at Bybee Photography and the answer to the question: "Who Photographs Kebabs?".

Bybee adds - as is shown in the McDonald's video - that plenty of retouching is required for the food to look good: both in real terms, on the food itself, and after the fact in the editing suite.

While it can sound like a wheeze that these companies manipulate the information that we receive regarding the food, I'm not sure that it is: were people expecting McDonald's to look like that? Don't we all know what a Maccies looks like?

Featured Image Credit: McDonald's

Mike Wood

Mike Meehall Wood is a freelance journalist and translator. He writes for LADbible, VICE and countless sports publications, focusing on rugby league, football and boxing. He is a graduate of Leeds University and maintains a fizzy pop obsession. Contact Mike at [email protected]

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