Say Cheese And Hold The Pickles: Behind The Scenes With McDonald's

Recently a customer from Toronto asked the people at McDonald's why the photos on the fast food giant's advertisements look nothing like the real thing you order in the drive-thru. The Canadian branch of McDonald's offered this behind the scenes video as their reply.

Follow Hope Bagozzi, Director of Marketing, for McDonald's as she walks you through a typical photoshoot. She first stops by a local McD's and picks up a Quarter Pounder with cheese and heads over to Watt International, an advertising firm where they photograph not only the burger that Hope picked up, but also shows you what goes on with the actual burgers seen in the advertisements; and their reasoning why they present it in such a way.

A food stylist prepares the products using the same ingredients used in the fast food restaurants world wide. He meticulously preps, prods and stylizes the burger to perfection before the photographer snaps away. Afterwards, the photographs are then sent to a retoucher that cleans up the images and puts the finishing touches on the shoot.

I don't know about you, but so far I'm McLovin' it.

Rebecca Britt's picture

Rebecca Britt is a South Texas based commercial, architectural and concert photographer. When she's not working Rebecca enjoys spending time with her two daughters, playing Diablo III, and shooting concerts (Electronic Dance Music). Rebecca also runs the largest collective of EDM (electronic dance music) photographers on social media.

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Good marketing move. No wonder why they are doing so good with this shitty food. Best marketing, after even worst Coca-Cola. I apologize for my language.


garbage, shit "food" - style it however you want, it's still barely passable as actual consumable food. absolutely bewildering how people willfully put this garbage in their mouths. revolting. 

If you have done your research you would know that this 'shit food' is actually quite normal, they are transparent about what the process is, well at least here in Australia they are.  Perhaps you need to look at how your supermarket gets it's food? You would be surprised what you consider 'shit food' vs 'proper food'. 

REally? The fact that you just said mcdonalds is 'quite normal' food discredits anything you have to say. 

Yeah I think it was mentioned in DigitalRev- I think in one of those pro photographer cheap camera types- not sure. But the point is- advertisers and photographers know they're faking it. Consumers know the company is faking it. So everyone knows its fake and looked to please you.

So why make an effort to fake it, regardless?

good % of woman are the same way. Thats now what your getting! Thats just the pretty billboard you saw while out. ...... and cue angry woman femist.. GO lol

more of a subconscious thing, if you see something that looks good it'll get your attention and put the thought in your head about wanting a burger.

 Maybe. When I see a good picture, especially here where I come from- I am skeptical. I guess the point is different for others.

I'm not sure why people expect food to be pretty and perfect, and that includes everyone who finds McDonald's "revolting."  I mean, no matter what you're eating, plant or animal, it's a corpse.  Everything you eat is dead, though its component tissues die at different rates depending on what it is, and despite the best efforts of vampire-like raw foodies everywhere.  (Have you heard some of their rhetoric about "living energy"?  Gross...)  So... yeah.  It's food.  Eat it or don't.  All your food choices say about you is what kind of food you eat--not what kind of person you are.

P.S.  I find McD's gross too, but not because lower-class people eat it.  Actually it's because I started cooking often enough at home that I know what real beef tastes like now.  I'm sure they add something to the McD's burgers (I eat them without bun anymore) or leave something out resulting in them being unsatisfying.  There are better uses for my money.

No. Eating is a pleasure. And by eating meat you make someone suffer so that you could satisfy yourself. If you know that a bit less of your pleasure would make someone suffer less too but you still doing it than it tells something about you as a person an living creature.

'All your food choices say about you is what kind of food you eat--not what kind of person you are.'
This is a ridiculous statement and I could not agree less. What you eat says VOLUMES about you are as a person.

Put the person who eats McDonalds everyday next to someone who eats Whole Foods Plant Based, and you will find two completely different people with two completely different outlooks on life, self, and the world around them. 

I agree with Roman. It is good marketing to hit this head on. As a consumer, I still don't know how to take this, but I appreciate the honesty. 

This level of transparency is curious. Yes, curious indeed. 

It's definitely not all as honest as this. I've been involved in shoots in another part of the world where:

- freshly cooked chicken breast was glued to the cross-section of a chicken nugget. the real one was too grey and 'processed' looking
- breadcrumbs were deep-fried and glued to the outsides of nuggets and chicken burgers to make them look crispier
- extra sesame seeds were glued to the buns - rather than adding them in post


 Yes a real (non-PR-department-sanctioned) food shoot is quite gross actually.

I was an intern at McDonald's Canada and had the opportunity to work with Hope for a shoot. Everything in this video is accurate to it's fullest degree. The sandwich they use for the shoot is good enough to eat.

Is the patty cooked all the way through?

Did you indeed, "Love it"?

What's the tool used at 2:58 on photoshop ?


 Free transform, do the selection press crtl-t and chose warp or distort.

Awesome video... I do enjoy the transparency they're offered.. and more importantly.. I enjoyed seeing the lights and the setup for the product shots.. very cool indeed.

Agreed! Also what I loved about this. Surprisingly detailed for a McDonalds PR piece. 

cool video!

I wonder if Mrs. Hope would be as transparent in showing us the method in which their hens are turned into chicken nuggets :-)  

It's plump, juicy, three inches thick. Look at this sorry, miserable,
squashed thing. Can anybody tell me what's wrong with this picture?

It's very admirable how they're so blatantly honest about this, yet the entire process being dishonest at its core, makes that last point seem almost irrelevant.  

Transparency. Right. Because the workers at that McDonald's didn't recognize the woman or her camera crew. (They were all clearly on their best behavior.) And the burger she got was surely the same quality they turn out all day, every day, not just one they made with special attention just for her. I don't know about you, but that was a far better looking sandwich than I've ever seen come out of a McDonald's. 

Most burger product shoots involve staining the burger with a brown dye instead of cooking it so it holds the shape better. They use bits of cardboard between the burger and bun to keep them from sagging. 

Obviously this division of this chain isn't doing it that way (the fact that they gave use the name of the studio, the photographer, and the food stylist says a lot), but this is far from complete honesty as some have interpreted it. The looks on the faces of the workers at the McDonald's is quite revealing. 

Honestly the crap that comes out of most fast food chains resembles the carefully crafted one in the shoot more than they seem to realize: lopsided, with all of the condiments on one side of the sandwich, and the bun glued by the "cheese" on an odd angle. 

Fake advertising for fake food in a fake world....

is this comment truly real?

This is absolutely unacceptable, they stylize the food? Next thing you know we'll all be shooting models with make up all over their face and retouching them in photoshop to make them look better. Shame on you McDonald's, I'm appalled.

Seriously now, get a grip people, enjoy the piece for what it is and learn from the process. I'm gonna go grill myself a t-bone steak now, excuse me.

I woudl prefer less PETA more pita please.. Wait till they shoot the soylent green ad.

Oh, that makes me hungry. I get bored very quickly with product photography (it takes skill and vision - just isn't my thing), but I do love quarter-pounders.

heading to the kitchen...

Did anyone else catch the '1-D world' comment by the stylist? Interesting video but a bit tacky. If that is all they do to make their food look good I'd be surprised. Also, the burger she got from the store with a camera hovering behind her looked much better than the average burger I ever got for my order.

eat mcDonald, get cancer. :)

Well, nothing new there. Interesting to see how it`s done though. Advertising photos are all fake. We all know that lol I just regret eating this disgusting thing for some much time hahaha