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I should point out that in the case
of commercials, either TV or print, truth in advertising rules. That means what
you see is what you get.
It all harkens back to a bad move
Campbell’s soup made in the States. For a print ad featuring one of their
soups, a few marbles were placed in the bottom of the soup bowl to make the
veggies float to the surface so they would be visible for the camera.
Somebody must have said, hey, my
Campbell’s soup doesn’t look like that when I make it, and bingo, Campbell’s
was in the soup.
Since then professional food stylists
and their clients have been very careful, indeed. With only a few small
structural and cosmetic exceptions, the food portrayed must be made exactly as
it would be created in the restaurant or fast-food outlet it comes from.
Besides, customers expect the food they’re served to be what they see in the
poster or commercial.
So if you’re doing a commercial for,
say, A&W Teen Burgers, someone has to stand there and carefully weigh the
pickles, and the Teen sauce, and the all-beef patty to make sure each is the
same-sized portion as you’d get in the restaurant.
In terms of visuals, key elements are
subjected to a huge amount of attention, almost like each has its own personal
assistant and make-up artist.
Take the patty, for instance. Once
the correct weight has been determined, patties are carefully shaped and cooked
— and it is patties, plural, for even if there is only one hamburger in a shot,
it may take dozens to complete the commercial, as actors bite away and succumb
to all the foibles of acting, or the burger simply wilts after an hour or two
of shooting under hot lights, or wasps take over the subject, if you’re
In the search for perfection, a food
stylist will drag out a ruler from his extensive “tool kit” to make sure the
patties are the right diameter for maximum visibility in a side shot. Then out
comes the blowtorch to make the edges a nice, appetizing brown tone.
According to Nathan, some stylists
will make up patties up to a week in advance to save time on the set, a good
idea when there might be a crew of up to 30 standing around if there’s a delay.
These pre-mades have to be submerged in oil to prevent them from turning dark