McDonalds Adverts vs Reality

Gavin WrenFood Opinion Pieces, The World of Food

McDonalds medium fries UK advert

My local neighbourhood is plastered with McDonalds adverts. I pondered whether it’s an attempt to overcome the proliferation of chicken shop takeaways offering £1 kids meals, which are abundant in this part of East London. These chicken joints make McDonalds look positively expensive and have the added bonus of resepctfully calling their customers ‘bossman’.

This advertising is probably targeted near to the large drive-by McDonalds situated around the corner, in the hope that the sight of massive Big Mac on a bus shelter will cause people to enter a zombie-like state, marching tirelessly with rolled-back eyes until they reach the shiny touchscreen ordering altar of this global corporation, where their bloodlust for fast food can be sated.

McDonalds Big Mac Advert UK

McDonalds. The Truth.

Disliking McDonalds can be quite fashionable, especially in oh-so-virtuous middle class bubbles of foodie culture, but I’m not that person. As a kid I loved them and have fond memories of childhood birthdays being celebrated there. It seemed a rite of passage for children of the seventies to be get shut into a walk-in freezer around their seventh birthday and then have a crew member begrudgingly dress up as Hamburglar.

A few years later, McDonalds became the place that my friends and I would hang out as young teenage mall-rats, being decidedly antisocial and using ashtrays as frisbees. Yes, I remember when you could still smoke in McDonalds.

Later in my school days we’d meet at McDonalds before a big night out, furtively passing a whisky bottle around to brighten up our extra-value meal drinks before hitting student night at the local crap club, stretching the term ‘student’ to it’s limit as we were still studying our A-levels.

When I was eighteen, my girlfriend was an area manager at McDonalds. I asked her what area she covered. Fries. But, having a girlfriend who worked at McDonalds came with massive benefits in the form of under-the-counter, fully customised meals of whatever I desired. My favourite was a Big Mac made using quarter pounder patties and extra cheese. It turned the mighty Big Mac into the beast it had never quite been.

It’s a fact that McDonalds is culturally entwined with my own life in and around London, it’s been ubiquitous throughout my years and formed a backdrop to many memories which I still hold today.

McDonalds medium fries UK advert

Get To The Point, Gavin.

Today, I eat McDonalds very occasionally, about once or twice a year. I can’t shake the fact that I genuinely like a Big Mac, and despite all the questions over it’s health credentials, I’m sticking to the mantra that a varied diet is a healthy one. They’re not even the big bad ogre of food sourcing that people like to think, for instance their procurement standards are apparently of a very high standard, with a supply chain as tight as a glove. They were one of the few large companies selling beef who were unaffected by the horsemeat scandal.

McDonald’s has often received criticism about the advertised appearance of their food when compared to the reality. People have highlighted this with photos showing the discrepancies between what the billboards say and what gets served on the counter.

With a McDonalds restaurant nearby and my studio lights set up for another shoot, I simply couldn’t resist grabbing iPhone shots of the local bus shelters along with a Big Mac and fries, then chuck them onto a grey background and see how the reality of McDonalds food stacks up against the adverts today.

Here are my findings…

The Mighty Big Mac Advert

The classic, mighty Big Mac. It’s always been my default choice, with no other burger featuring the super-secret treat of Big Mac sauce. Here’s how it looks in the advertising.

McDonalds Big Mac Advert UK

The Reality of The Big Mac

Are you ready for the shocking results? It looks completely… the same?!

Seriously, I’m amazed, I was expecting a damp, squat pastiche of the advert. Aside from the advertised burger (sorry, sandwich) having a voluminous top bun which appears 50% taller, the rest of the burger is as advertised, with a little bit of tweaking for the camera. I’ll give McDonalds top marks for this.

McDonalds real big mac

The Medium Fries Advert

On to the fries.

I shot some takeaway fries for a project earlier in the year and I realise that making them look good and abundant is not simple. The advertised portion here is literally climbing out of the wrapper, reaching for the sky, they’re aching to escape into your sweet ‘n sour dip.

McDonalds medium fries UK advert

The Real Medium Fries

OK the reality.

First, I must clarify there were no stray fries hiding in the bottom of the bag, I lifted this pack straight from the bag onto the set, then took the shot. Taking the advert at face value, my portion would appear to be about 50% lighter than advertised and a bit more soggy.

This gets a big thumbs down.

McDonalds Real Medium Fries Shot UK

McDonalds Advertised vs Real

Here are side-by-side images to show the difference more clearly.

The burger genuinely looks good and the fries look like a sad state of affairs.

C’mon McDonalds, give the public a full portion!!!

McDonalds Big Mac Advert Vs Real UK
McDonalds Medium Fries Advert Vs Real UK


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