I love it when brands take on their memes and urban legends head on. While many assume this to be a dangerous game, the right content and messaging can change the conversations and the perception of a brand. And I believe McDonalds Canada may be doing just that.
The reason that the Fast Food In Real Life meme has been so popular (see image on the right) is because it rings remarkably true. Who hasn't opened up a boxed burger and laughed at the image before our eyes as compared to the image on the illuminated displays above the register?
This experience becomes all the more laughable at the fast food joints where they have an open or semi open kitchen design. The popular design theory is that showing all of the fresh ingredients and food prep makes the food feel less "fast food" and more healthful. In a few more modern chains, this imagery is further augmented by flat screens displaying slow-motion glamor shots of ridiculously perfect wet tomatoes being sliced and soft, warm, perfect bread being sliced. Yet when we open our boxes and plastic containers the same sad looking salad or burger stares back at us.
I once heard an experience designer write this entire experience off as a cheap and effective elaborate manipulation of the consumer's fast food experience. The consumer smells their food, tastes the crunch, and for the most part sees a better looking product on displays all around them. Is this reality or web conspiracy?
I can't imagine that very many fast food brands would have an acceptable answer to this challenge. We experience a different product than they present on a regular basis.
While many brands would hesitate to share what could be considered a poorly presented dish, McDonalds bucked the trend by posting a fairly thorough overview of their food photography process. The short video below demonstrates that (a) regular food in McDonalds does not always look as bad as the meme suggests, and (b) that there is little evil in putting on your best possible face.
After watching this video, the consumer in me relates to the food photographer and the creatives at their agency who make their food like oh so good. While I don't know that I now feel like their food is any more healthful or much more appealing (I am kosher observant), I am willing to bet that this video will have a healthy shelf life on the web, serving as a rational counterpoint to one of the web's most popular memes.
Kudos to McD's Canada for showing the world how social is done right.