We decided to have our dinner today, January 17, 2013, at Karate Kid in SM Megamall as I am a fan of quick Japanese food at a good price. I believe we all understand it that in fast food, or any other dining establishments, we can’t expect the dishes served to us to look exactly the same as the one in their marketing collaterals.
I, myself, make a living out of taking photos of food and designing marketing collaterals. I admit, we fluff the food, give it better lighting and meticulously work on every detail of the product to make it look as good as it can. But we all have to have limits. We cannot cheat the consumers by marketing a dish which looks full and bursting with ingredients but serve something essentially different. It’s like marketing air conditioners but actually selling rectangular fans that you have to put ice in to make it cool.
As a food photographer, I admit, I do try my best to make the dish look as mouth-watering as possible, but I make sure to discuss with my clients (usually the establishment owners) regarding the size of the serving the consumers actually get. I work with that, the serving size of what you actually order and make the most of that. I guess you can call it ethical marketing.
But here before us sit a dish called “Spam Maki”. Staring at it, I thought “I would never have imagined that it is humanly possible to slice spam that thin. It’s like the cook used a vegetable peeler to make the slices.” I felt cheated, insulted. They marketed a dish to look like something so full and appetizing, and serving you some skin of spam between two slabs of rice, you might have as well served me extra rice instead. I was appalled. I felt like they made a promise and didn’t even try to fulfil it.
Luckily, after discussing with the manager, she nicely offered to take back the order and give us a refund. Yes, I believe we – the consumers – have all the right to be refunded if we find the marketing collaterals excessively misleading. Honestly, I never expect my McDonald burger to look like the one on the poster, I understand that. But at least I know my burger only looks like shit because of the hasty preparation. I’m sure the cook wouldn’t spend 3 meticulous hours on preparing a burger. But this one was just plain cheating. Even If I got the two slices of spam I received and stuck them together, they would be nowhere near what they “showed” it would look like.
I hope this article reach the right people, not just the marketing team of Karate Kid but anyone in the advertising industry. There is nothing wrong with making things look good, it’s our job to sell. Like putting on make-up before going out. But trying to look good and lying about how you really look like is an entirely different thing. We should set boundaries for ourselves. We should be ethical. We should create things we can be proud of. To sell is a challenge; to sell honestly is a greater but more rewarding challenge.