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.