Fast Food & Pie-in-the-Sky Marketing

29 Oct

I’ve always hated the marketing department.

“Which marketing department, Cory?  You’ve worked at Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King.”

All of them.

The marketing department takes hours to construct the perfect sandwich, using ingredients that aren’t even edible.  They put a fine mist on the tomatoes, they paint the lettuce green.  BK uses shredded iceberg lettuce, but the ads look as green as romaine lettuce, and they use full leaves of lettuce.  They play up the grill marks on the sandwich to emphasize “flame-broiling.”  They put each ingredient on that sandwich as though they were playing a Jenga game with $1 million dollars at stake.

They play with lighting and exposure times, then take that single, perfect picture.

Then, they touch up any imperfections on the perfect picture using effects in PhotoShop.  The result looks mouth-watering:

Conversely, when the customer orders a Whopper, the goal is to make it in 7 seconds, sometimes with substandard ingredients.  Or, at least shredded lettuce as opposed to leaf, mayo that isn’t as white, onions that have fermented in their own juice for at least an hour, and a burger patty that hasn’t touched a real grill in its life.  The result looks like this:

I have no doubt in my mind that the whopper in that picture tastes excellent.  That’s not what I’m here to talk about.  What I am here to talk about is the seriously unrealistic standard that the marketing department of a fast food restaurant creates with those PhotoShopped but delicious looking pictures they use in the advertisement.

Customers, fact of life: it will never look like the picture.  Unless you want to wait for two hours while a team of workers stack each ingredient perfectly and we paint the food the vibrant colors.  Then treat it with a special gloss so that it shines in the light.

But then your food, like the delectable picture, wouldn’t be edible.  And you wouldn’t be able to grab it and go at the drive-thru.

It would be nice if the marketing department adopted the Domino’s Pizza approach by using real food in the pictures taken by customers and uploaded to a website.  It looks far more realistic, and just as tempting (in many cases).  And best of all, the customer knows exactly what to expect and isn’t lead astray by painted lettuce or meticulously arranged nacho chips.

It also creates some accountability with the employees: while speed is important, presentation is also a must!  This might be online.  Do you want to be “that guy” that made the “Slopper” that appears on our company’s website?  Nobody wants to be “that guy.”

Since I don’t see  BK or Wendy’s adopting that kind of a policy anytime soon, I recommend that employees just joke with the customers about how disappointed they are in the presentation of the real food versus the fantasy marketing.  Then, after sharing a laugh, tout the quality of the food for the price, leaving them with that food for thought!

More food comparisons.


One Response to “Fast Food & Pie-in-the-Sky Marketing”


  1. Top 50 Restaurant Management Blogs | Point Blank | Direct Capital - August 27, 2014

    […] Fast Food & Pie-in-the-Sky Marketing […]

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