The Truth about (Food) Advertising
“The Truth About Advertising” – That was the subject in the newsletter that I’ve subscribed to (Early to Rise, Total Health Breakthroughs – GREAT health, wealth, and success newsletter, highly recommend).
Now I know advertising deceives people all the time. I know they have tons of tricks, somewhat manipulative, to make you YEARN for their product/service.
Heck, I’m an avid marketer and advertiser myself. I use these tricks. Mostly the strategic use of certain words, phrases, and formatting.
But here was an article about the deception that comes from FOOD advertisements. THIS YOU HAVE TO READ IN ITS ENTIRETY.
I APPLAUD the advertising agencies for the methods they use to make food look soooo delectable on TV. SEE HOW BELOW.
P.S. not only is this a great article for content – but this writer knows how to write! Guaranteed he will keep you wanting to read more!
The instant the commercial comes on, your mouth starts to water.
Boy, that burger looks good enough to eat, huh?
It should. After all, it’s supposed to. It’s a work of art. But it’s not really food.
The burger in the picture looks good enough to eat. But even if you like burgers, you wouldn’t want to eat this one.
- The meat was only cooked for twenty seconds per side to avoid, as George Costanza famously put it, “shrinkage.” It’s still raw in the middle, but no matter. So long as it looks big and juicy on camera.
- To make it look even bigger, a pie-shaped wedge was cut out from the back side of the patty, out of view of the camera, so that the remainder could be spread out on the bun.
- A red-hot skewer was used to “brand” the meat, giving the appearance of grill marks. Then it was painted with a mixture of brown food coloring, molasses, and wood stain to give it that perfect color.
- The bun was carefully selected from hundreds of contenders for its perfect shape. Then sesame seeds were carefully affixed with tweezers and glue. To keep it from getting soggy, it was coated with waterproofing spray. The burger is also sitting on top of a cardboard platform in a specially made diaper that absorbs all of the juices.
- The vegetables were selected from cases of lettuce, tomatoes, and onions to find the perfect specimens. Then they were put in place with straight pins and toothpicks.
- See that perfect shine on the meat, cheese, and vegetables? That’s a mixture of water and glycerin, an oily component of fats that’s used in soaps, skin care products, and industrial solvents. It was misted on by spray bottle because it lasts for up to 15 minutes under the hot studio lights.
- If they had wanted condiments for this shot, those would have been carefully applied by paintbrush or glue gun.
And that’s just the burger. Don’t even get me started on the fries, which were hand selected and mounted to a Styrofoam board to create the perfect bouquet.
Still sound good? It’s enough to make you lose your appetite.
Nothing Is As It Seems
The fact of the matter is that there’s about as much truth in fast food advertising as there is nutrition in fast food.
Think burger ads are the only culprits? Think again.
You know the iconic cereal commercials where the flakes and the milk cascade together down into the bowl? It’s a great visual, but there’s a big problem with that: cereal gets soggy in milk. And nobody wants to buy soggy cereal. The solution? They usually use white glue instead.
How about the rich syrup that gets poured over heaping stacks of warm, freshly made pancakes? Same problem. That’s why the syrup is usually motor oil.
Professional food stylists also hate things that melt. Ice, for example. Anytime you see an ad with ice in it, it’s usually acrylic. Not only won’t it melt, it also catches the light better.
Ice cream melts, too. That’s why the ice cream you see in ads is often made of shortening, margarine, powdered sugar, and corn syrup. The mixture is like clay, but it looks like the real thing, and it can be stored for months.
How do they get away with that?
Easy. You’d think there would be rules about food advertisements, and there are. You have to show the real product you’re selling. But there aren’t any rules about what else you show along with it.
You know how toy ads always show more toys than are actually included? By showing extra stuff, they make the product look better. It’s the same with food ads.
Cereal makers aren’t selling milk, so they don’t have to use milk in their commercials. Pancake mixes don’t come with syrup. Drinks don’t come with ice. And that’s why they don’t have to show real syrup or real ice.
Nobody expects you to eat glue or motor oil. But the ads aren’t telling you to. You didn’t even know that’s what you were seeing.
The rules about truth in advertising only apply to the products being advertised. Everything else is extraneous.
Something similar happens when they try to sell you roast chicken. Cooking a chicken makes the skin wrinkle up. It doesn’t look pretty like on TV.
But if they’re selling chicken, then they have to show you chicken.
So here’s what they usually do. They cook the bird until the skin turns golden brown. The inside is still raw, but that’s okay. It’s still real chicken.
Then they wash the whole thing with dishwashing detergent to remove unsightly fat and grease spots. They stuff it tightly with hot, wet paper towels to create steam. Then they use a needle and thread to sew up the back of the bird and pull the skin tight.
Once that’s done, they paint it with an appropriate mixture of food coloring, molasses, oil, wood stain — whatever they have on hand to get the color they want.
To top it all off, they use a blowtorch to brown any parts that are still a bit too pale to be photogenic. Quite the tanning booth, I’d say.
It’s still real chicken. And honestly, it hasn’t had anything done to it that people don’t do to themselves for cosmetic reasons.
Call it a chicken with a makeover.
That Still Doesn’t Explain the Burger
Well, it does and it doesn’t. You have to show the real product you’re selling. But you want to show that product in the best possible light.
Consider what they do in soup ads. If you leave a bowl of soup to settle, all the good stuff falls to the bottom. But when it’s on camera, you want all that good stuff to show.
One way to fix the problem would be just to add more stuff. Put in more of the meat and the veggies that are already in there and more will show. Simple enough, right?
Problem is, you can’t do that. You can’t use twelve ounces of meat and vegetables if there’s really only six in the product. That, says the government, would be dishonest.
Instead, when they film soup commercials, they use marbles to “prop up” the meat and the vegetables. They’re showing you the real product. They’re even showing you the real amount of the product.
And that, says the government, is truth in advertising.
Ever see an ad for mashed potatoes where the bowl looks impossibly full? Real mashed potatoes. Right amount. But usually with newspaper wadded up underneath so that it looks like more.
Truth in advertising.
Anytime you see an advertisement for food on a plate or a drink in a glass, it has to be the real food and drink. But the plates and glasses are probably tiny. If they’re shot from a very close-up angle, you can’t even tell the difference. Except, of course, that the food looks bigger.
Truth in advertising.
And the burger?
Well, what about it? They’re showing you a real burger.
They can’t use more meat than they use in the real product. So they don’t. They just make it look bigger.
They can’t put things on the burger that they don’t put on the real product. So they don’t. They just make them look better.
They can’t say anything that is untrue about their product. So they don’t. They lie with pictures instead.
Truth be told, that’s even more effective. A picture’s worth a thousand words.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is truth in advertising.
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