Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fast Food Advertising and American Eating Habits

I chose to analyze the impact of fast food advertisements on the "average American customer" (my "average American" is somewhat being based off of stereotypes as well as on my own observations). I wonder just how big of a role fast food advertisements are playing on the American culture's obesity health concern and eating habits in general. Though these fast food companies and these advertisements alone cannot be entirely responsible for the eating habits and obesity problem in this country, it is interesting to analyze and question just how big of a role these advertisements may be playing in this major health, political, and social issue.
The first advertisement appears to be a menu in a Taco Bell drive-thru. What I find intriguing about this advertisement is the way in which it suggests one is getting more for his money. Not only is there a large phrase at the top that states “why pay more!”, but these are also subtle adjectives which suggest the quality of this food is excellent for this price in which is listed. For example, the "big taste taco" suggests one is not just buying a typical taco; he is buying a large taco with excellent quality/taste. And best of all, it is only 99 cents! How can one turn that down? I think this advertisement/menu temps customers to buy more mostly because of the price, but also because of the adjectives which are used to describe the tacos, burritos, etc. These adjectives I would assume subconsciously make each item on the menu much more appealing than if they were listed simply in a way such as "taco 1", "taco 2" "Burrito" "nachos", etc. Also, I believe there (logically) is probably not a large difference between, say, the big taste taco" and the "crunchy taco".

This indication of this second advertisement seems rather obvious; by putting a fit woman next to the McGriddles, McDonalds is sending out the message that one can be as fit as this woman is, and still live on a "McDonald's diet". One would assume this is foolish and that one would have to be incredibly idiotic to believe such a thing, but I do think this advertisement still is fairly effective. I don't believe the intention of this advertisement is to tell people that McGriddles are healthy for you but rather, tempt the audience into believing that a few McGriddles are not going to hurt your health, even if consumed all in the same day. This advertisement seems to be this woman speaking, "Look at me! I'm fit and I eat McGriddles all the time! You can too!". The subtle and indirect effects of this advertisement can persuade many into believing much of McDonald's food is actually, neutral as far as health goes; it's not healthy, but not unhealthy either.
This third advertisement is a Dairy Queen blizzard. I find this advertisement especially interesting because of it's graphics and ability to make the blizzard look much more delicious than it probably is. Also, the words "brownie batter" seem to be the emphasizing focus that make the rest of this "chocolate-y" image appealing. If those words weren't in this ad, the blizzard definitely wouldn't look nearly as appealing. I think both the color and angle of the text is what make the text part of this ad effective. The detail of the brownies, blizzard, and chocolate batter is what makes this look so appetizing, as well as the batter dripping down with the blizzard spiraling upwards. This effect is eye-appealing and when combined with the detail of the batter, blizzard/ice cream and brownies in this advertisement, one must be very tempted to buy this blizzard.
This advertisement from Wendy's seems to emphasize large portion sizes and package/meal sizes. Though one is probably unlikely to buy all of this from himself, by showing all of the options one has to choose from, it is likely one may get more than he/she planned on to begin with. For example, one who was originally planning on only buying a hamburger may be persuaded to buy a full meal after viewing all of the options shown in this advertisement. Food advertisements in general seem to tempt most Americans in to often getting more food than they're hungry for; I feel like images often tend to make people imagine they are more hungry than they actually are.
The fifth and last advertisement I feel may be directed more towards men than women. It seems to portray the appeal of a "mighty burger" therefore attracting men who are looking for a "mighty" and/or "manly" image. The "Iron Man 2" text kind of adds to this message as well. Despite which type of audience this may be purposely directed towards, this advertisement makes the burger look bigger than it really is, persuading customers to "buy big" and/or possibly eat more. I believe that is an indirect effect of this advertisement. This advertisement also accomplishes the technique of close-up images that allows a viewer to see the many different layers and ingredients inside this burger, making it appear to be more than just a fast food burger. In that case, some may assume that this burger is more healthy as well since it includes vegetables and what appears to be "quality meat" (at least in this advertisement).


  1. This is a very interesting selection. What strikes me immediately is how *big* the food items appear in each one, even in the Taco Bell menu that doesn't have actual pictures, the PRICE screams size/value. Particularly interesting in juxtaposition with the woman in #2.

  2. Fast food in America has become so popular because we're always on the go, moving, getting to our destination as fast as possible, get our food as fast as possible to continue on with our day without disrupting the flow. "Bigger is better" and "more for your money". Fast food now has a bad image because it's seen as unhealthy especially after the documentary "Supersize Me"

  3. Fast food ads are definitely eye catching but i am still a little disgusted by them. Just for the fact that you can buy something so cheap the quality is not going to be very good. I think the mcgriddles ad is more based on sex appeal rather than fitness. I do not even think the best McDonald's advertising can make you believe you wouldn't get fat by eating their product.