The Misleading Steak Premiere
In late 2002 McDonald's ran a television advertisement in the UK for its new Steak Premiere sandwich. The ad attracted the attention of the UK's Independent Television Commission after it received complaints that the image of the sandwich in the ad was misleading. Viewers noted that the ad showed a bun containing a substantial amount of steak, dressing, peppers and onions. However, the actual sandwich was far less full of ingredients.
The ITC investigated and concluded there was a "disparity between the quantity of toppings against the television advertisements." McDonald's admitted that, in making the ad, its photographers had moved some of the toppings to the edge of the bun to make them more visible.
This is fairly standard practice in the advertising industry. "Food stylists" are employed to carefully stage food to enhance its appearance. Common tricks include shining fruit and vegetables with glycerin, piling pasta on top of mashed potatoes to make it look bigger, putting aspirin in champagne to give it extra fizz, and searing the outside of uncooked burgers with a blowtorch to create the appearance of moist, plump burgers.
McDonald's was ordered to stop running the ad. It stopped serving the sandwich in January 2003.
Links and References
• McDonald's food advert banned. (March 3, 2003). BBC News.