McDonald’s “Behind Scenes” Video Just Another PR Stunt


Last week McDonald’s Canada posted a video on YouTube entitled, “Behind the scenes at a McDonald’s photo shoot,” which purports to answer a question from a customer on why McDonald’s food looks different in ads than it does in reality. So to answer this question, Hope Bagazzi, director of marketing for McDonald’s Canada takes us on a tour of how the food stylists with the company’s advertising firm prepare a cheeseburger and how that differs from what it really looks like. The idea, so it appears, is to be transparent and honest about how McDonald’s portrays its food in advertisements.

The video has gone viral, inching toward six million views. I even tweeted it myself. But one of my followers who lives in Vancouver, Anne Rosenberg was not fooled. She sent me the following email:

I’ve been very upset about this YouTube McDonald’s commercial. Almost six million people think it is just a casual unedited honest  portrayal, when in fact every detail is painfully thought out. Every shot – even the microphone we “shouldn’t see” in the car, is staged. That helps to make it look low budget. It is actually one of the most powerful ads I have ever seen.

I wasn’t surprised that even Grist and NPR bought into this. It was  distributed in a way that helped it to go viral extremely quickly. That was also well choreographed. They have such skill and so much money behind them and they can manipulate even those who are aware. Thinking of over six million people who have that image under those bright lights, imprinted on their brains, makes me sick.

It’s sneaky advertising and they didn’t even have to pay to have it on YouTube. But millions of people do have to pay when they experience poor health as a result of consuming that junk food. How many of the people who watched closely as they focused the camera on that hamburger had the urge to go out and buy one? The team who worked on that ad must be celebrating their huge success. We all overlooked the way they took advantage of us. Yet again.

Thanks, Anne, so well said. Let’s all learn a lesson here.

5 Responses to “McDonald’s “Behind Scenes” Video Just Another PR Stunt”

  1. @DrinkPro says:

    I don’t understand. Anne Rosenberg says that a simple video of how food is crafted to look good in order to fool us, is in fact a trick, in and of itself, to fool us? No kidding. Who thinks McDonald’s would go through the trouble of creating a video if not for the purpose of advertising? As she watched, did she think it was just a coincidence there was a McDonald’s across the street from where Hope Bagazzi was filming? Why wouldn’t McDonald’s take advantage of an opportunity to sell something? They are in business to sell food. No one says Ms. Rosenberg had to go out and buy a Quarter Pounder with cheese, but, I have a feeling she did, and she is now disappointed in her lack of self-control and is blaming McDonald’s for her poor decision. To say Anne Rosenberg was not fooled may not be true.

  2. Anne Rosenberg says:

    Dear @DrinkPro,

    Thank you for your response. You do raise some excellent points. When I wrote the email to Michele Simon, I had just seen the YouTube video and my first reaction was anger and then sadness, at the great lack of integrity. I think you may have been picking up on that anger. If I would have waited a few days before sending the email, or written it with more than Michele in mind, I might have included the following quote.

    “We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.”
    Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

    I am not blaming the marketing team at McDonald’s for trying to sell so much junk food to all of us and our children. As you say, they are just doing their job and in this case, they are doing that job exceptionally well. Perhaps, though, they haven’t done it quite well enough to actually get me or my family to buy a Big Mac.

    Thank goodness. (smile)

    Anne Rosenberg

  3. UkieFood says:

    I’m just finishing “Appetite for Profit” and I recently saw this video. Having worked in McDonalds back in the day (and not that much has changed, apart from trans fat free oil), I feel pretty skeptical of the whole thing, and I can say that it would be impossible to make a burger look anywhere near as attractive as the one pictured. One thing I recall is how the “investigator” sort of fumbled when explaining the soggy bun, and blamed it on steam from the box it was in, or something along those lines. The buns are not usually that “fluffy” to begin with. One of the starkest contrasts, however, is just the colours. McDonalds beef is almost grey in color, and the bun is a much blander, off white sort of colour. Yet they really seem to play around with not so much the photoshop but just the lighting, to make it look like that brown, juicy patty that the regular quarter pounder can only dream of being.

  4. [...] is basically a locally-owned family business by extension. Never mind its predatory marketing or deceptive PR stunts. Forget about the fact that they regularly fight against laws that would improve the health of this [...]

  5. Consumer choices now control the entertainment market in a manner that had beenimpossible before the the web and also the viral circulation of current information and also finished entertainment content material. At the time you add to that distribution on the Internet and, media internet sites, from chat to whole videos. It’s actually a completely new society. Some of it good, some not.

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