McDonald’s Finally Comes Clean On False Advertising (Kind Of)

McDonald’s Finally Comes Clean On False Advertising (Kind Of)

Takeaway Truth is an occasional Lifehacker feature where we compare marketing images against what you actually get served. This week, we were all set to put McDonald’s Quarter Pounder under the microscope to see if it was any worse than the risible Hungry Jack’s Whopper. However, while scouring the ‘net for marketing images, we noticed something weird — the company had already beat us to the punch.

The above image is an official marketing release that recently appeared on McDonald’s Facebook page. It’s part of the company’s “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign, which purports to answer customer queries about McDonald’s food products honestly.

As is plainly evident, McDonald’s is openly admitting that its posters look nothing like the real product. Here’s a related blurb from the McDonald’s “Your Questions” website:

When we prepare a Macca’s burger for its moment in front of the camera, there’s a lot of time spent getting it looking picture-perfect. Just like a family portrait, we want our burgers presented at their very best.   So while the burgers seen in the images are the same size with the same ingredients, it’s important to note that they’ve been slowly assembled, expertly lit and professionally photographed over a lengthy period of time.   When it comes to a burger we serve up in our restaurants, we want the choice ingredients assembled and served up quickly to ensure it stays warm and ready for you to eat, which is why you might find that it’s not identical to the one you see in our advertisements.

On the one hand, we suppose McDonald’s should be commended for this frank honesty. On the other hand, there are some glaring inconsistances even within this carefully prepared PR stunt.

For instance, in the above quote, McDonald’s swears blind that its advertised burgers are the same size as the real thing — despite its own side-by-side comparison suggesting the contrary. It’s almost as if the design team and copywriter forgot to confer and get their stories straight.

Plus, we’re not entirely convinced that the “real” photo is a fair representation of what customers actually get served. As Takeaway Truth has proved time and time again, the reality is often much, much sloppier looking.

In conclusion, owning up to a lie doesn’t get you a free pass — especially if you deliberately limit your audience. We’d be more impressed if McDonald’s displayed these posters in its restaurants. Instead, it can only be accessed by people who join its Facebook page. Tch.

Still, at least we’re seeing a small step in the right direction. Maybe Takeaway Truth and grumpy customers on social media are finally starting to make a difference.

See also: Takeaway Truth: McDonald’s Quarter Pounder BLT Burger | Takeaway Truth: The 2013 ‘Hall Of Shame’


  • as mentioned, that 3 minute burger looks better than an in store version, but if its to be believed, it at least shows that stores *could* make something that doesn’t look like it was slapped together by a 5 y/o

    • the mcdonalds in homebush (near their headquarters) probably comes the closest to its advertized look, considering they have to continually impress their bosses hehehe.

  • Shrug. Probably comes down to where you’re ordering and when. When I was a regular at the Fortitude Valley maccas at slow points of the night, I’d get some pretty great-looking burgers. Nothing like the ones I’d grab from drive-through when road-tripping on the highway.

  • The sauce should be at least close to representation. Unless only the picture side of the burger has sauce………

    • They actually do use the same amount of ingredients, but its hard to tell because they use a perspective trick to give the ingredients visibility. The stylised burger is actually stacked on a slant, such that the upper part of the burger is sitting a bit behind the front (further away from the camera). If you compare the top buns between the 2 photos its pretty obvious (and they demonstrate it in vids on youtube).

    • There is a video of them constructing it somewhere, they put the sauce on the press shots *after* the burger is put together.

      Basically the idea of the press shot is to show you everything in the burger, it makes for a lopsided, inedible product. A swirl of ketchup in the center of the burger isn’t very visible, but a few dabs placed delicately between pieces of onions is.

  • As long as the ingredients are evenly spread I don’t really care. I just rip the two front cardboard flaps off the box and eat it from the clamshell anyway. Who stares at their burger?

  • First world problems are just terrible, aren’t they.

    As long as all the ingredients are accounted for I don’t really mind that the burger I receive doesn’t look like the advertised product. We all know these things are slapped together by pimple-faced 16 year olds, so nobody should be walking into a McDonalds with high expectations.

  • In McDonald’s Canada says that the burger size difference comes from the fact that ‘the box that they come in is warm, which causes a steam effect and the buns to contract ‘a little’.’ Also, note that they actually pile ALL of the topping on a single side, making that actual product appear to contain more of said ingredients.

    I’ve also got an idea for a new addition to the takeaway truths column: Ask for a special order burger and see how many times it takes them to get it right. Our record was 5 times to get a single burger correct. (My wife has IBS, and doesn’t want cheese on her burgers; a fact that McDonalds restaurants fail to appreciate.)

  • When I was working at mcdonnalds the time of all burgers was monitored electronically. If we took 3 mins to make 1 burger we would be fired, shit if we took 1 min to make 3 burgers we would be fired.

    • Personally I put the blame on ‘Made For You’ but frankly I’m very supportive of such practices. McDonald’s has been slow for the last decade. Not KFC slow but still pretty slow.

  • Let’s face it… Maccas is cheap food. You buy it for the cost, convenience & taste, not the presentation. If you’re really that concerned with the presentation, stop being a cheap arse and go out to an actual restaurant… and get food that actually has some nutrition in it, too.

  • The poutine photo shown on the kiosk shows the box as being top full. But it is only 1/2 full when you actually buy one. That’s false advertising…bait and switch. On the menu board the poutine is shown served on a plate…otherwise it would look like the miserly portion that it is. For $3.99 + tax, it should darn well be full to the brim.

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