Authenticity in Advertising

In my last post, I wrote about authenticity in social media.  With this post, I’m focusing on authenticity in advertising.  While that subject could likely provide enough source material to teach a full semester’s course, I’ll narrow it down to fast food advertising (and just this one post).

It’s not a secret that many hours go into enhancing the look of fast food products.  The lighting has to be just right, items are strategically placed, touch-ups are done.  In fact, quite often what you see isn’t the actual food product but something made to look like it.  Is that really ice cream you’re seeing in a commercial, or scoops of lard covered in motor oil?  Is it milk in that cereal bowl, or watered-down glue?  Yes, you read those examples correctly.  🙂

Since learning about these techniques in college,  I’ve never really trusted fast food advertising.  Watch the video below and your level of trust might be lower too.

There’s a recent trend that’s become an advertising pet peeve of mine.  Have you noticed fast food restaurants often include slow-motion shots of sandwiches being meticulously constructed with farm-fresh ingredients using pristine instruments?  It’s almost like watching a culinary version of the game “Operation!”  Do you really think that’s what occurs after you place your order at the drive-thru?  Or, is it more likely someone is slapping together food warmed under a heat lamp as quickly as possible using their hands (hopefully with gloves)?

For the above reasons, I find authenticity in fast food advertising significantly lacking.  What other industries need to do a better job of being authentic in their advertising?


2 thoughts on “Authenticity in Advertising

  1. Ha ha ha. What other industries need to do a better job of being authentic in their advertising? Talk about an open ended question! I have worked in advertising with quick service restaurants (QSRs), home improvement, medical, and several other industries. Advertising is not about showing authenticity, rather to promote sales. There are some companies that I feel are authentic – Tom’s shoes and Zappo’s for example. They have successfully told their story, and engaged their customers. For the QSR market, aren’t they are trying to differentiate themselves from being a commodity in the consumer minds. And do you really want to know what is in that 500 calorie milkshake when it tastes so good?

    • Thanks for commenting Sheila! I agree about the primary purpose of advertising being sales. Now that social media is a part of the marketing mix of the majority of companies, I think authenticity in advertising has a new and bigger role than it’s had in the past. Effective social media requires transparency. Customers and consumers are more engaged than in the past, thanks to social media. Given the multiple channels and “power” shift to the consumer, I think companies will need to be more authentic across the spectrum, advertising included.

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