This Is How McDonald’s Food Photography Makes the Ads Look SO Good

The world of McDonald's food photography has plenty of secrets. But the burgers are made with real ingredients!

There’s nothing quite like a quick trip to McDonald’s. While their food has changed and evolved from their very first menu over the decades (it’s been 80+ years), they’ve always had something special. You know, like their ridiculously good french fries? Whether we go back for an order of McNuggets or plain old nostalgia, we can’t get enough of those Golden Arches!

But have you ever wondered why the food in their ads looks so much better than the food we order every day? It has to do with some clever McDonald’s food photography and marketing tricks.

It’s All About the Angle

Back in 2012, the McDonald’s Canada YouTube channel made a video answering the common question, “Why does your food look different in your advertising than what is in the store?” Hope Bagozzi, who was then the director of marking for McDonald’s Canada, took us on a trip to explain why the food in ads is slightly different from the regular products.

The explanation really isn’t complicated. Basically, the team working on the product photographs wants to make sure each individual ingredient is displayed and accounted for. Everything needs to be at the perfect angle to give justice to a 3D product in a 2D world.

A Look Inside the Studio

In the video, Hope brings us into the studio of Watt International, the agency that McDonald’s partners with for photography and marketing. Food stylists will build a burger from scratch using the same ingredients as in the restaurant, while a photographer creates the perfect lighting for each item.

The reason burgers in ads are taller is due to a couple things. First, the photographer stacks each ingredient on top of each other toward the front of the burger. Toppings that would normally be hidden under the bun on a normal burger, like pickles and ketchup, are purposefully brought forward so the audience can see everything!

Second, Hope explains that normal hamburger buns suffer from partial collapse due to steam inside the burger boxes. But the burgers in ads have never been boxed up and served.

A Few More McDonald’s Secrets

Did you know the Big Mac is over 50 years old and was originally made for steelworkers? Or that you can pay less at McDonald’s for your favorite meal by switching up your order?

I’m ready to take a trip to McD’s!

Melany Love
Having always wanted a career in writing, Melany couldn't have found a better place than Taste of Home to begin. When she's not scribbling in her notebook or working at her computer, she can be found experimenting with new recipes or relaxing with a book and her cats.