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Why Can't the Pictures in Ads Be Real? Reality Versus the Commercials

Updated on December 3, 2019
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don is a Writer and a Storyteller. He has published over 9 books on varied subjects along with many articles and commentary on his blogs.

Real Fast Food Cheeseburger

A typical fastfood cheeseburger
A typical fastfood cheeseburger | Source

Are all TV and Magazine ADs intentionally misleading

As an average Consumer in America, today, I am so tired of the False Representations used in photos to sell products to the public.

Even in some of the hubs that I read, there are pictures attached to them that do not even vaguely reflect the actual content of the Hub itself.

And, as you all know, this goes on in advertisements for; Restaurants, Clothiers, Recipes, in reviews of business', in corporate suggestions for foods, in the Drug Industry, in the commercial health industry, and on and on.

This is a rampant problem that we, as the public, just seem to accept as being the norm and not something that we can try to change for the better.

From the fast food hamburger chains to the hole-in-the wall "Chinese" and other ethnic food stands across America; even to the diet plans for the overweight and to just about everyone in the retail sales world; what you see is not what you get.

Listed below are some examples of what I mean;

Fast Food Chains and their advertisements

Food Chains:

These are the most evident retailers who make the maddest when I go to one of their establishments.

I mean, have you ever walked into a fast food chain restaurant and just ordered a Burger? I mean ,a nice one like the giant picture hanging over your head right behind the cashier.

And then, when you sat down and opened the box or bag, what you pulled out to eat was nothing like that picture that you can still see hanging over the counter.

The bun itself is usually crushed down to the thickness of a cracker, and nothing like the thick and enticing one in the picture. Why?

Well, it seems that everyone who touches the burger seems to want to have a death grip on it before it gets to you, for one thing.

For another, they have to stack other things into that same bag of food,and if your burger ends up on the bottom? Oh Well, gravity will take over!

The lettuce is probably hanging out the edge of the bun, and is invariably one, thin, limp, leaf of lettuce, and not the multiple leaves that you see in the picture..

What's with telling me that I get lettuce on my burger, showing me a picture of my ideal burger with at least 1/4 inch of lettuce leaves hanging out from the bun.

And when I open mine? It 's a single lonely leaf?

And, ignore the fact that the lettuce is probably the only truly nutritionally acceptable thing in the package, and is actually good for you.

So they just give you one slice?

The tomato. Well the tomato, by itself, is an insult to our intelligence.

You don't get fresh homegrown bright red tomatoes on fast food sandwiches, my friend.

You see, they buy millions of tomatoes from farms, often in other countries, around the world, that are harvested long before they ripen.

They are washed, boxed, and sprayed with gases to make them look relatively red, and then they are stored in refrigerated trailers for shipment and distribution to their food chains.

Once at the store, they are sliced to the thickness of a newspaper page and 1 to 2 of these slices are tossed on top of the lonely leaf of lettuce ...... for your enjoyment, of course.

The meat, or what they call meat, is that dark black hockey puck, lying morosely on the bottom half of the bun.

It has been cooked, somewhere, to a state of abuse that they are obviously embarrsssed by because they always cover it with all of the condiments;

The condiments? Oh yeah, the ketchup, the mustard, possibly the reconstituted onion, and sometimes a lonely, abused slice or two of pickle.

These tasty delights are applied haphazardly over the meat in measured squirts and random tosses by some pimple-faced teenager .

The Quarter Pound Burger

By the way, when you buy a "quarter pound" burger, what you get does not weigh a quarter pound.

Rather, somewhere, down some remote production line, right after the cow is slaughtered and its meat and fat is ground up and mixed with water, the meat (sometimes with a non-meat filler) is shaped by large automated machines into round or square or "natural shaped" patties.

Then, it is immediately measured on a production line to always be slightly more than 1/4 of a pound in weight.

Then the "Meat Pattie" is packaged, frozen, and shipped to the chain stores via the corporate distribution system. Not all are frozen, but most are.

At the chains, they are thawed and slapped onto the automated grill or whatever media they use and are cooked to a very well-done state ..... for your enjoyment, of course!

They leave no chances of the company being sued for making someone sick with half-cooked meat.

I haven't painted a very pretty picture of the world of fast food have I?

OK, you're probably laughing at me right now, but, honestly, did your last fast food burger look even remotely like the picture in their ads or on the wall of the restaurant.

I'm not a genius, but when I open my burger up and there it lies;less than 1/4 inch thick, noticeably smaller than the Bun it sits on, barely covered by minimal condiments, and then I glance up at the ad on the wall and that one is obviously closer to 1/2 in thick, hangs out over the edge of the Bun, and has condiments actually falling from the meat and bun; ..... folks, It Aint the same Burger.

And I'm tired of the deception.

Diet Plans, GYM advertisements and the pictures used.

Diet plans that advertise their wares are truly one of the most deceptive of the retailer niches, in my opinion.

First of all, just walk down the street, any street, in any city, and look at the people.

You see tall ones, short ones, fat ones and skinny ones. But you will rarely see that perfect body that dominant on the advertisements for Diet Plans and for Gym Memberships, walking down the street towards you.

Oh there are people that have those perfect bodies, but most of them are all busy, working in photo studios, having their perfect bodies photographed for those advertisements that you see.

And, if you were able to stop them and ask? They would just laugh and tell you that,

No, they do not use that diet plan, or No, they do not go to a gym, even. It was their job to be photographed for the ads, not use that Crap!

They are actually the exceptions in our population, that are, in turn, held up to us, the rest of the public, as some kind of ideal that we should all work to be like.

Those six-pack abs?

Well, the majority of the people that have these are usually in the age range of 18 to maybe 30.

They have next to no Body Fat, and they, again, are busy working out and having pictures taken of their bodies.

And, as I mentioned, they are a very small part of the total population.

Why did I say only up to the age of 30?

Because, in all probability, if they really are successful models, they end up partying and eventually fall out of shape and end up with the only modeling jobs available being Beer ads, fully clothed.

Anyone else is, in all probability, a rare exception.

Real People with Real Lives

What about the rest of us?

The Tall, Short, Fat, Skinny, blemished masses?

They want our money, they want our signatures on the dotted line .....But, they know, all too well, that we will never, ever look like those models in those cooked up pictures.

And, if you bring this up to them?

They smile and say; Oh, but you will be so much healthier than if you don't lose that extra weight or if you don't exercise.

Yeah, true, healthier is better, but you will still see those damned model's pictures on the diet plan package and on the walls of the Gym!

They know what sells! The impossibility of perfection!

Clothing Stores and Clothing advertisements

Clothing stores are not as flagrant as other types of retailers but they are right up there in the false advertisement world.

You see, when I walk into a men's clothing store, they definitely do not lead me over to the "beautiful people" section. Nope, rather, it's the "I think you might look better in one of these" section.

And, off I go, with the salesman, to the land of dark and drab clothing.

Clothing that is usually made for people with Beer Bellies, short legs, long arms, big chests, etc.

You know, the regular people of the world.

The ones that might have healthy bodies, but not the ones that the cool clothes were cut for.

You see, those clothes were cut for the models in those pictures in their ads, not for the average person.

Those people, in the ads, just slip the cool clothes on and they fit perfectly.They are the right length, they fit around the waist, and across the back and chest.

The rest of us? the majority of us?

The rest of us, from the real world, well, we have to get the pants shortened or the waist taken in.

And we have to wear the shirt and jacket either tight across the back or chest, or just always buy them too large so that they will fit in these areas.

We are the average person, and we vary in size and shape considerably.

No matter, they, the manufacturers, design and cut the material for their clothes to fit those perfect little skinny, short models.

The rest of us?

Well, their computers modify the automated cloth cuttings slightly, and place labels on these finished products that say; "loose fit", "magic stretch", "for the full-bodied", and other phrases that really mean "for the rest of you odd shaped people".

And, one other thing that really burns me about buying clothing today, as an average American.

EVERYBODY is supposed to wear even length slacks.

I constantly look through the piles of slacks at the major retailers.

You could purchase slacks in even lengths from 26 to 42. in even lengths only.

No one is supposed to have an inseam that is an odd number?

Essentially, the men's slack manufacturers are saying; Half of you, the John Q. Publics, can wear the right length slacks, the even length ones.

As to the rest of us? well, you can wear our slacks either too short or too long. We really don't care!

They would rather manage their inventory than give us the right sized pants.

Retail Advertising and the Lethargic Public

In the world of Retail advertising the blatant use of false advertising, from food ads, clothing ads and even Diet Plan Ads have gilded the American Public's expectations to the point that they accept the fact that there is no real truth in advertising anymore.

They just continue to accept the falsehoods and and mediocre products shoved at them as the norm..

And more dangerously, Drug Use and Application ads, is so bad that we, the public, are constantly forced to purchase products that come no where near our expectations.

by Don Bobbitt

Fast Food- Reality versus Advertisements

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      8 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Thanks for the comment and Vote UP, Kasman.

      I really appreciate your support. And, as you can probably tell, this was one of my RANTS abour how the American public is constantly duped by the commercial world.

      Thanks again,


    • Kasman profile image


      8 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      Good hub Don, absolutely right on with the food advertisements especially. I'm sure you've heard about the subway debacle going on right now where they're being accused of not giving a full 12 inches on their foot longs. I'd always wondered why their foot longs weren't quite as long as a Lenny's footlong sub. Great hub, voting up!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      8 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Davesworld-First of all, thanks for the incisive comment about how these foods are photographed.

      So, the establishments are allowed to photograph "perfection", which we all know is unattainable in real life.

      There used to be a popular phrase abut such sales techniques. It was called BAIT AND SWITCH. What they are doing kind of resembles a minor version of this?

      Oh Well.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      8 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      SkeetyD- You make a good point, we are our worst enemy when it comes to our lethargic attitude about what we will accept in our lives. It just seems that second best really is OK for most people.

    • Davesworld profile image


      8 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      I saw a documentary once that described the photographic process for things like a BigMac. The FTC demands that the item shown be what is actually offered in the store, so you are looking at a real bun, a real piece of meat, real cheese, real lettuce. Except that the photographer is allowed to go through dozens of buns until he finds a photogenic one. A dozen or more hamburger patties have been examine until you get one of the right color, size and shape. Lettuce and cheese can be glued into position and molded by hand to provide a pleasing view. Extra sesame seeds are glued to the bun to make it look more appetizing. And so on and so forth. Everything in the picture is real and exactly represents what you get, they just play around with it taking the best of this and the best of that to make the picture.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You are so right Don! I often wonder the same myself. As a society we seem resigned to the fact that we will never get what we see in advertisements. Great hub, voted up and shared

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      I am really glad that you liked it Express10! We should all try to spread the word and maybe we can nip this kind of thing in the bud? Nah, on second thought I'm just running against the wind. Again!

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      9 years ago from East Coast

      Great hub here. I know professional and amateur athletes and they don't use the gimmicks to get their bodies. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice for all of them. Some of them take it too far but all that stays hush hush as long as advertisers can make some bucks off of that hard body. You hit the nail on the head with this hub on all fronts.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      stricltlydating- Thanks for the kind words about my Hub.

    • stricktlydating profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      What a great subject! I've found myself often disappointed when the food doesn't look like it does in the pictures. McDonalds burgers seem to be shrinking here in Australia too! A really good read!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Sorry for the delayed responses folks, but it is the Holidays!

      Seeker7- Being a 65-year-old man, I totally ignored the women's beauty industry. Now there is a group of people who are generating totally false expectations about aging, and making Billions on the fears that they generate themselves. That would be a great Hub for someone --- The Beauty Mafia?

      Eyesstraight ahead-- Honestly, my wife and I only hit a fast food joint for one of two reasons; 1- we are on the road, traveling, and just need to fill the Belly, and 2- we are visiting our grandkids and they force us into a visit. Honestly, you can generally find a nice local place and eat GOOD and often more nutritious foods for only around 50% more.

      Jason and Gregas- From what I know of the hiring and personnel practices of most FF chains, they limit the allotted hours (often to minimize benefits required for full-time workers on most workers so that they are a constantly rotating crew. It's all about the buck! Very few of the staff get a full work week, much less a decent salary as you guys mention.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 

      9 years ago from Corona, California.

      You have a good point Jason.Greg

    • Jason Lim profile image

      Jason Lim 

      9 years ago from Singapore

      I can't argue with the other two, but the one with the fast food really gets me. This one really boils down to the staff working at the restaurant outlets. Since most of them don't really want to be there anyway and are not proud of what they are doing, nothing that comes out will look anything close to what it looks like in ads. I just have one question, instead of spending so much money on marketing and advertisement, why not pay staff more so they at least think what they are doing is worth their time?

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 

      9 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Don, I am sorry, it was thoughtless of me to not recognize your writing. I did enjoy it very much, to the point it made me remember the movie, as I haven't eaten fast food in a while. I too wish there would a truth in advertising campaign that would allow us to be marketed what we will actually receive - but I think we are a long way from that happening unfortunately because there is a lot of consumerism in this country.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      9 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      An excellent and very informative hub. I agree with Immartin's comments about the beauty industry. What p...'s me off about the beauty industry in the UK is the TV ads in particular. The anti-aging eye creams and face cream ads are a joke. They use a model to show how good your crow-feet eyes and skin will look if you use their hugely over-priced tub of glue - the most irritating thing about it, is that the said model is in her mid-twenties and the creams are aimed at the likes of me, nearly hitting 50 and older. I hate being treated like an idiot by these Ads - so your hub was a refreshingly honest exposure of the dishonest businesses in the world.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      GRL, You are right on to my point, not only with the ads themselves, but even the sales people are geared to sell you anything, and hold their laughter until you leave the store.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      EyesStraightAhead, Thanks for the Comment, and I hope you enjoyed my personal Rant!

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Lynda, Thanks for the comment. And that s my whole point, we need a movement back towards reality when ALL OF US can purchase products that are right for the individual, and not the ideal. Whatever that is!

    • lmmartin profile image


      9 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      On speaking of photographs that come nowhere near reality, the first thing that pops into my head are the women, the starved down, bosom enhanced, airbrushed to perfection women. And we are to believe that should we use this product, or wear this clothing, we, too, will look like that. For those of us who've lived a few decades, we're long past buying into it -- or are we? The plethora of anti-aging products would suggest otherwise. (As if...) But imagine the impact on our young women. The industry has only recently started doing the same thing to men. What a sad state of affairs it is when no one is good enough as nature made them. Thanks for some excellent "food for thought." Lynda

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      9 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      I quite agree. We never seem to get what's advertised. Especially when it comes to food. And when it comes to clothes what may look good on someone will never do for me and then the saleslady says,"It's you!" lol

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image

      Shell Vera 

      9 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      In "Falling Down" one of the best parts of the movie is when he completely flips over the burger not looking like it does on the picture! Every time I eat fast food I think of that movie and giggle.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      leRoy, oh, yeah, toothpaste! another of my favorites. I drink Coffee, I brush regularly. My teeth get stained. It doesn't matter what brand I use, and I have used them all. They all SUCK! Only the dentist can make them white again. then, a week later, the same old stains. So how good is their product? cheap mass produced crap with the minimal active ingredients inserted that they can get by with.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Arlene, wouldn't it be great to see real, average looking people touting the marvelous of something to us? We have let them go so far that even the people that say they are real users of products are actors.

      I don't know ..... all I want to see is an infusion of HONESTY in ads. Is that too much? Oh, Yeah, pants that fit. I'm an odd person, and not just mentally!

    • leroy64 profile image

      Brian L. Powell 

      9 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

      I am amused by toothpaste adds. Honestly, how can they put that much effort into selling something you wind up spitting into the sink? I think I might start using baking soda again.

    • Don Bobbitt profile imageAUTHOR

      Don Bobbitt 

      9 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      thanks Gregas, these are the things that I see as wrong with America. today. There are just too many people that are along for the ride. No Commitment, No Hope! Everyone beat down by the System, and the corporations taking advantage of it all!

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      9 years ago

      Don, I am so tired of seeing these skinny models on TV, eating burgers that are three stories high. You know in real life, these women don't go anywhere near burgers, fries and shakes. Not if they want those modeling gigs!

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 

      9 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Don, I know exactly what you mean. I seem to always have something to complain about anytime I go anywhere. I usually keep it to myself. But bussinesses especially fast food places, just don't seem to take pride in their product or service anymore.

      When I was in the Air Force I worked lunch rush at the McDonalds in Alexandria, LA. We had 3 cash registers and 6 window people. On an average we would bring in over $300 during a 2 hour period, 11am-1pm. Mind you, this was in 1966. I believe cheeseburgers were $.24 and they had just started the "Filet-O-Fish" sandwiches. We still made real malts and miklshakes and we still cut the fries fresh. There was no walking across the floor to gather your order. You flew or got ran over. We had one of the fastest grill-men around. With all of this and all of the hustle & bustle and rushing around, the manager still had the wrapper make sure that when the burgers were wrapped, the cheese and pickles were on straight, and there was NO ketchuo or mustard on the wrapper. The manager and owner were both very picky about this. And this was everyday at lunch. The cheeseburger you have pictured would have never made it from behind the grill, let alone out the door. Good point, good hub. Greg


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