Appearance vs. Reality in Food PR


I remember experiencing quite a lot of disappointment in my internet dating days before meeting Mr. Canny. Heck, I was just as guilty of putting my ‘best face’ out there as the next person. I was hardly going to put on a make-up free selfie, was I? Does that mean I was falsely ‘advertising’ myself? I remember the sinking feeling I got when eventually meeting certain people who weren’t the hotties I originally thought, and wished for more honesty on their part to avoid a huge waste of time and energy.


Credit: Jam Jar Instagram

What happens when a restaurant or store ‘airbrushes’ the truth? A cake company recently posted a photo of some cat shaped doughnuts on Twitter. They looked fantastic and, as it was the Teen’s birthday, made a special trip to buy some. When I asked in the store where they were, the assistant said the post on social media was just to ‘gauge an interest’ in what their customers wanted. They had lifted said photo from the Internet and used it across all their SM platforms. I bought something else instead, but was rightly annoyed at being led up the garden path, especially as I had asked whether they were available in store on Twitter but received no answer.

The reason for this segue from my intended review of Jam Jar, located on Osbourne Road in Jesmond, is because I recently felt duped by them too. Regular readers of the blog will know that the Teen and I are suckers for the Freakshake trend, and are always on the look-out for the most ridiculous milkshakes you can find in the North East. Our top pick was GB Cupcakery until our visit to Saucy Burger on Saturday. But before we sampled the Nutella Cake Face at Sunderland’s newest restaurant, I took the Teen to Jam Jar as I had spied some great looking shakes there.

Credit: Jam Jar Instagram

Credit: Jam Jar Instagram

We went specifically for the milkshakes, but ordered a few bar snacks too. While the milkshake that arrived was decent, it certainly didn’t match the expectations I had. Since visiting more elaborate pictures have been posted of their shakes, which makes me question who they are actually serving these to. We visited on a Monday night, but nowhere does it say that these crazy shakes are only available at certain times. I wonder if anyone else has been disgruntled by it. Based on the comments they receive on Instagram and Facebook, punters are clearly lapping up the idea and possibly – like us – going specifically for them.imageAfter posting the actual milkshake on the Canny Food Instagram account people commented positively, but I also received messages from friends about why there was such a difference between their PR and reality. I’ll reiterate the milkshakes we had – Crunchie and Oreo, in case your interested – were tasty. The Creme Egg shake they posted was just an Easter offering so I’ll forgive that one, but the rest are supposed to be available every day. The difference between them is half a bar of chocolate, more milk & chocolate sauce and a ha m jar glass, which isn’t that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. But what about cakes that you don’t even have in stock being posted about? Where is the line drawn?

We weren’t told that they had run out of any ingredients and, when I mentioned we’d come for one of their special Freakshakes wasn’t told we were going to get anything other than what I had expected based on what is out their in the public domain. At Velvet Elvis I was told they didn’t have the doughnuts to make the milkshake posted on their Instagram feed when I visited. I was disappointed, but know someone else subsequently made the trip after my post and got this shake. You can compare my Crunchie to the Peanut Butter M&M one above.

I think restaurants need to be careful how they market themselves as they can be setting their diners expectations too high before they’ve even walked through the door. I’m not saying fancy lighting and a few more herbs dressing a plate than usual are lying to customers, but if your plates are not going to have as much care lavished on them during service it might not be the best thing to do. I’m sure there are many folks who have spied on Instagram, et al. and local blogs before booking a table somewhere, only to feel like they were sold a dud afterwards. One of the reasons I haven’t purchased a fancy camera to take photos while reviewing is I feel readers appreciate a more natural approach. I’ll admit to positioning my plates of food a bit better than I used to and asking Mr. Canny to move out of the way on occasion, but I think the approach should be ‘WYSIWYG’ so people know what they’re going to be served up too.

It would be interesting to know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,

Pip x


  1. samantha rickelton

    I take about half the food photos on my blog with DSLR and half with my iPhone. I honestly don’t think taking a photo with a fancy camera dupes anyone so that isn’t the issue. In fact when the lighting is bad an iPhone pic can look nothing like what’s on my plate in front of me and a DSLR pic can actually be closer to the truth.

    I have been to a few places where we HAVE NOT been served what I’ve seen on social media. I think that cocktails and drinks are often the worst offenders. It’s a tricky one but I do think restaurants and bars would be much better served if they posted ACTUAL drinks that are served rather than a staged pic x

  2. Katie

    Wow, I really love this post for its honesty! You could do this often and see the differences, totally agree with the WYSIWYG attitude. I do still love the fancy PR instagrams as theyre very aesthetically please, like a lot of flat lays with blogging I find etc.

    Do more!
    (North East venues are going to be quaking in their boots now!)

    1. Emma Phillips (Post author)

      Maybe I should include it as a new feature in my posts? 🙂

  3. Helen

    I think JamJar have been very misleading here! The shakes in the pictures are far superior to what you got and if they posted pic of what they actually looked like it probably wouldn’t entice me to visit.

    How hard can it be for them to invest in some more jamjar glasses?! I’m going to be very mindful of this in future!


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