In the US, the industry spent more than $4.2 billion in advertisements in 2009 alone, according to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2011). MacDonald’s has had many advertisements in its history with catchy slogans such as “MacDonald’s, I’m lovin’ it”, “what you want is what you get”, which have only served to reinforce what their adverts on print media have imprinted on the minds of Americans over the years; scrumptious looking, giant pieces of “Big Macs, “Sausage Mac Muffins” and many more.
The visual misrepresentation of the fast foods by Fast-food Restaurants in print media advertisements is one of the major causes of exploitation of customers. For example the depiction of various fast foods by MacDonald’s in the Ebony (June issue of 1979) Magazine was very different from the actual product sold at the outlets. This trend continues today as customers never get to experience the giant cheese burgers they see in the adverts, nor do they get satisfied with one taking of the “Quarter pounder” as is suggested by the advert. Hence the visual misrepresentation is meant to lure customers to buy what is not actually on offer in terms of size.
A discussion of the potential fallacies contained in the ad:
Such adverts that portray the bigger than life, awesome picture is usually meant to exploit customers. By creating the shiny, neon orange, liquefied pump cheese crisp image of a burger, customers would not question the nutritional value especially if it is cheaper than your average meal at a restaurant.
The fallacy is that with so little, you get so much, which is not true. The advert makes use of an array of very bright appealing colors of fresh very green looking vegetables, fine cheddar cheese and robust golden brown fresh looking bread rolled up into a single nutritious healthy meal. The truth is the actual meal does not look like that and if you give it a couple of minutes, would look worse; the trick is, you need to take it the sooner it is served or else it loses its appeal and taste according to.
The average American is likely to be overweight or obese according to FDA (2004) and this is as a result of partaking what Americans commonly call Junk-foods. This term is one that many Americans are familiar with and understand the level of fat and sugar in the food but they still would look at the advert and even order in despite knowing the risks
The fallacies about the giant burgers and their appealing pictures lies in the age old American belief in having an opportunity to achieve the very best one can: the American Dream. Unfortunately, if anything, the American dream has evolved into “make it big” with everyone wanting the big cars, houses, corporations and multinationals such as MacDonald’s. The fallacies serve to fuel the American demand for bigger and cheaper at the expense of any cost which in this case is the rising number of cancer cases, diabetes and other ailments associated with poor nutrition while delivering the burger as the National Food that every American is proud of (Zajac, 2011).
A discussion about any other problems with the advertisement
Adverts about burgers and other fast foods can be improved by first removing the connotation that they are meals. A meal should be a healthy intake with the required amount vitamins carbohydrates and proteins, not a substitute for something else. Restaurants such as Macdonald’s should stop calling snacks” food” because it confuses the public to think they can substitute their regular meals for big Macs. Secondly the adverts should include calorie labels for their foods just like the directive by FDA (2011) to have all fast food outlets include labels on every item served.
Though banning of such spectacular fast food advertisements may be not possible, perhaps the onus could be passed to Print Media owners to lay down the rules on what an advert picture contains and whether it is a true representation of the actual object in reality. For example, New York Times does not allow any adverts on Cigarette or Tobacco, sexual enhancement drugs, among other conditions because of the associated health risks. Though they have not yet included adverts on fast foods, it may serve well to do sooner, now that it is evident the havoc fast food is wrecking on Americans is a global concern (FDA, 2004). In addition the use of Ronald MacDonald, the clown figure in advertisements targeted at children is immoral because every time a child sees a clown, they now associate it with Mac Donald’s Burgers.