45 Creative Tricks That Are Used To Film TV Commercials

By Ishita P

We usually feel our mouths water for some juicy cheeseburgers every time McDonald’s advertisements appear on the TV. Moreover, getting lustrous and voluminous, long hair like those in shampoo commercials is still a dream for many, even if we spend hundreds to buy the advertised shampoo. Well, at least once in our lives, all of us experienced a huge difference in the quality of a product from what was shown in the commercials. But, have you ever thought about how creators of TV commercials present such lustrous products in front of us? Is it all real or something that we fail to comprehend just by looking at the ads? Yes, they all use creative tricks to fool audiences. They help make the product truly stand out. In this article, have a walk through some shocking TV commercial tricks that you have never realized before. Who knows, these revelations might change your mind and decision-making forever!

Mashed potatoes to create a creamy, dreamy ice-cream

Every time you switch on the TV, at least 3-4 times, you will encounter some luscious and creamy ads for ice cream. But have you ever given it a deep thought that when you buy ice cream, it starts melting within a few seconds, then what makes the ice creams shown in the TV commercials look so perfect, which doesn’t seem to melt at all?

Image courtesy of brainly.in

Well, let us unfold the secret. TV commercial producers use colored mashed potatoes to shoot such advertisements. Those creamy ice creams in the commercials are not real ice-creams; they apply food colors to a dollop of mashed potato and put it on the ice-cream cone, which stays in place without melting. However, don’t worry, they will not serve you potatoes in their store!

Flat and unsettled burgers? No worries, they have toothpicks!

There is no second thought about the delicious taste of burgers when they melt perfectly in our mouths. But why does the burger we buy not stay in place and spill on the tray and all over the table? Well, only burger lovers know how difficult it is to put together all the layers and keep them in place.

Image courtesy of @robervigo/Twitter

In TV advertisements, we have never seen anyone struggle to keep the layers of the burger in place while eating them. So, what is the secret? Toothpicks! Yes, toothpicks work like pillars for soft and fluffy burgers that help the layers stay in place to make them look picture-perfect in the commercials.

Cotton in a taco!

You must be wondering what we mean by “cotton in a taco!” Well, when food advertisement companies portray tacos stuffed with meat and veggies, many of us can’t help but crave them instantly. But, do you know the shocking side of such juicy and meat-loaded tacos?

Image courtesy of centurymarketingin.com

It’s the cotton balls that serve as an obedient taco filling while preparing them for advertisements. The ad creators dip cotton balls into the water to swell them up and then place those in the mid-section of the taco, followed by fillings of meat and condiments. It produces stellar tacos similar to the image shown above, which you see on your TV.

The more color on the toast, the browner it is

Do not curse yourself for not making the perfect golden-brown toast that you see in TV commercials. The bread you are toasting right now may be colorless, but trust us, it is much healthier and tastier than the toast you drool over in TV ads.

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Yes, no doubt, the toast you see in advertisements looks amazing. But, marketers paint them with color, making them look browner and more delicious. So, if you are toasting unattractive bread, it’s okay, as nobody in the world can toast it to such perfection.

Those caviars are fake, trust us!

We all know how costly caviar is. Also, finding them in the market is a challenge. Yes, we know producers have enough money to buy caviar for a perfect advertisement, but they don’t actually use them. Instead, they have a smart alternative for it.

Image courtesy of brightside.me

TV producers prepare fake caviars made from tomato sauce to save dollars and get that perfect caviar look for the advertisement. Appalling, right! Also, this replicating idea looks shinier and more impressive, which can easily fool you with its very look.

Is it real milk in the breakfast, or is it glue?

Now, let us spill some more beans in front of you. Have you ever noticed that the milk you see in cereal advertisements looks much whiter and thicker than the real milk we drink? Also, the cereals look so crunchy even if they remain submerged in the milk for so long.

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Well, it’s another clever trick that ad producers use. They simply replace the milk with whiter and heavier glue. Then, they put cereal bits on top. It naturally eliminates the chance of the cereal getting soggy, and it makes the breakfast look enticing. So, you see how these shrewd TV producers have been fooling us since the beginning!

Some tan on chicken makes it ready for the shoot!

Doesn’t that perfect roasted, delicious, and whole chicken you drool over in commercials double your craving and make you rush to the restaurant to grab it? Well, exactly. This is what ad producers want you to believe, and this is how their creative marketing tactics work.

Image courtesy of brightside.me

What is more shocking is that the roasted look of the whole chicken is not at all real. Yes, you read it right! Advertisers use a tanning spray on the chicken to give it a uniform layer of color, which gives that perfect tantalizing appearance and retains the size of the chicken. It can sound a bit disappointing to you, but sadly, it is the truth!

Perfectly chilled fresh fruits? Relax, it’s talcum powder!

The lady in the refrigerator commercial happily takes out chilled and fresh fruits from the fridge, which look as juicy and tasty as they had just been reaped from the garden. But whatever you see in ads is just a faux if you haven’t figured that out yet.

Image courtesy of 5-Minute Crafts/Youtube

It is not the magic of the refrigerator that gives them this appearance. Instead, it is the magic of the talcum powder. Yes, with the addition of talcum powder and a bit of hair spray, fruits seem to glitter with ice frost yet appear fresh and plumpy. And this is how fake ads make you believe that buying that particular fridge is the key to get such perfect, cold, and fresh fruits.

Cakes or cardboard? Think about it!

Nothing looks more delicious than the cakes or pastries displayed in TV commercials. Those ads can even make us feel the taste of the cream and spongy cake rolling over our tongue. Once we see it, we instantly crave it because it’s just too perfect to resist.

Image courtesy of freshedits.com

Well, it’s time for a reality check! The advertisers rightly know what to do to make the cake stay in exact shape. They take some bits of cardboard and place them inside each layer of the cake. After that, they simply cover it with cream to hide their hoax. This trick prevents the cake from collapsing, resulting in the production of an amazing treat on-screen!

Let’s get fizzy with Aspirin

We must admit that when physics meets creativity, it can do wonders. Judging from the soda commercials, it is pretty evident. No matter how much effort you put in, you cannot create that long-lasting fizz on your soda unless you are getting your hands into these smart tricks.

Image courtesy of thedaddest.com

That long-lasting effervescence in soda drinks displayed in TV ads is not a natural one. Instead, it is the chemical property of Aspirin that makes bubbles look more enticing and long-lasting as it reacts with soda for a long time.

Lipsticks are not just meant to stay in your makeup box

Do you think lipsticks are just for your lips? Well, the purpose of your lipstick may be just to color your lips, but they find their way to many scenarios. It is one of the greatest tools for producers who want strawberries and cherries to look even redder on-screen.

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The luscious strawberries that you see on TV screens look more attractive than ever before. But when you buy the same strawberries from the market, you will never find that dark red color variant. Why? Well, that’s because those colors in the commercial weren’t natural. They simply painted those strawberries with red lipstick to achieve that juicy look.

Robots handle every intricate detail

The creativity that you can find in TV advertisements is nothing but spectacular. The spraying of spices, flying ketch-up, precise applications of cream on cakes, and pouring milk or juice perfectly in glasses look stellar and beautiful.

Image courtesy of 5-Minute Crafts/Youtube

You might assume all these tricks are by humans, which photo editors crop and remove later from the video, but the real masters behind this game are robots. Special robots add such minute detailing in food commercials, making everything look so spectacular and delicious.

Real hair locks? Maybe it’s not exactly what you are thinking!

Every time models appear on screen to show off their bouncy and silky long hair in advertisements of shampoos, we start planning to buy that product by the next month to get that perfect bounce in our hair. Are we right?

Image courtesy of dazzling.news

But let us tell you a secret! The hair is not all real; instead, they are just extensions! Most of the time, ad-makers put hair extensions to the actress’s head that look shinier, voluminous, glossy, and bouncy, and entices audiences. But it’s all about marketing!

Fries on a sponge! Shocking!

Every time you look at an advertisement for fries, you might wonder why the fries you get are not so long. Well, don’t feel disappointed; you are just not aware of some hidden facts. The truth is that the fries shown in TV ads are not long; they are elevated with a clever trick.

To keep fries in place, advertisers simply push multiple toothpicks in a sponge and then insert the fries onto each toothpick. After that, they put back the well-arranged sponge into the box of fries, giving the fries a neat and long appearance.

It’s not cheese on the pizza, but glue!

If you are a die-hard pizza lover, knowing this fact will be very painful for you, but it’s your right to know the truth. So, the reality is that the commercials showing palatable cheesy pizza do not contain even a bit of cheese. Sorry to be the ones to disappoint!

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That long string of cheese you see coming out of the pizzas is just sticky glue to make you believe that you will get such cheesy bursts when you buy a pizza. But let us tell you, to create such cheesy bursts, it will take a whopping amount of cheese, which most shops do not provide.

The secret behind grilled burger patties revealed!

Do you know the actual secret behind those juicy, tender, yet perfectly grilled burger patties you see in the commercials? If you have ever tried grilling such patties on your own, you must know that it takes a lot of time to achieve those perfect grilled marks on the surface, which eventually dries the pattie.

Image courtesy of fixthephoto.com

It looks like the ad producers figured out how to turn the impossible into possible. To get that effect, creators usually use an uncooked patty and place grill marks on it using a blazing thin rod. And the result of it is exactly what you see on the screen.

Smoky hot food? Or maybe a trick with ice!

Nothing looks more tempting than steamy hot foods that are made fresh, and advertisers rightly know it. Thus, they use a very creative and thoughtful trick that helps them create the perfect illusion of steam coming off smoky hot dishes.

Image courtesy of foodphotographyblog.com

Here, the tactic is to place some dry ice in a small bowl and hide it behind the food tray. Then, as soon as the water is added into the bowl of dry ice, the soft steam-like fog starts rising slowly, creating that perfect smoky-hot look of the dish.

Hairspray is made for hair…and food

Grocery stores often put on TV commercials inside the store to flaunt their shiny fresh fruits. But, a lot of the times, those fruits look completely dull and dry. If you knew the trick behind why this is, you would limit your expectations from such astute sellers. But worry no more, we will unfurl the secret to you!

Image courtesy of thedaddest.com

The TV producers usually use hairspray to achieve this look. They spray a tiny amount of hairspray on the basket of fruits to give them a beautiful sheen, making them appear picture-perfect. It’s funny to learn how hairsprays are no longer meant only for your hair but also for fruits!

Some body spray for fruits! 

You might feel that we are talking rubbish, as you have barely seen any other use of body sprays rather than applying them on the skin. But, if you think about it, if commercial producers can use hairsprays on fruits, why would they not test their creativity with deodorants?

Image courtesy of producereport.com

Many producers use body sprays to add shine and gloss to the fruits, making them look ultra-delicious and unbelievably shiny. However, don’t try it at home; fruits smell and taste much better in their natural state and without deodorant.

Styrofoam for hair volume!

When you look at any ad from a hair product manufacturer, you can easily find a cast that naturally has beautiful and natural hair. Those elegant puffs and plumps on the voluminous hair look so attractive in this next photo. But is it for real?

Image courtesy of teenvogue.com

This style looks great on-screen, but have you ever wondered what holds it all together? Those are small balls of Styrofoam that add more volume to the model’s hair and make it look plumper. The novel ways of producers that hoax audiences and boost their sales are beyond us!

Some more steam with tampons

By now, you already know one method of creating a hot, smoky illusion over foods to shoot the perfect ad. But, it is time to learn another technique. It’s not every food commercial that creators use dry ice to create smoke. Sometimes, they just use a tampon.

Image courtesy of foodffornet.com

They soak the tampon in the water and then microwave it until it achieves piping hotness. Then tactfully, advertisers place the hot tampon behind the food to create that perfect illusion of steam rising out of a scrumptious dish. Sounds smart, right!

The steady tower of a sandwich

Whether you make a sandwich with multiple layers on your own or buy it from a shop, you can barely ever achieve that mind-blowing balance and steadiness that you may witness on TV. Every time you try, it slants more, creating a total mess on the table.

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What is the secret power that keeps multi-layered sandwiches exactly in place in a TV commercial? Well, these TV studios simply put some scaffolding behind the sandwich, which helps it stand for a long time without leaning over. Now, you understand the nifty tactic!

Balloons for plumped up turkey

Did you just see a plump and juicy turkey in a food advertisement and are now rushing to the store to get it? Well, we are not here to stop you from grabbing a juicy, tender whole turkey on your platter, but are you sure the turkey they showed you on TV will look exactly like that in real life?

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Well, it’s time to gulp a reality check pill! We know it’s not at all hard for an expert chef to cook such an amazing turkey. But the commercials barely care about cooking. Instead, they focus more on the looks. They use a balloon inside the pockets of the turkey to make it look more full on camera.

Chocolate lava inside a cake? Maybe not!

The chocolate bursting from a cake may be enough to make you go crazy and order a Choco lava cake instantly. But, allow us to spill more beans. As of now, you must have already understood that you should not believe in whatever you see in an ad.

Image courtesy of 5-minute Crafts/Youtube

The fact is that the commercials promoting a Choco lava cake basically use glue, which looks uncannily similar to chocolate. But that so-called chocolate is a mixture of PVA glue, chocolate food color, and sodium tetraborate that forms tiny-colored glueballs that melt out of the cake as soon as they are placed inside.

Pancakes and engine oils – A great casting pair for a shoot!

Well, every time you see the menu at a cafe or come across an advertisement, you tend to feast your eyes on maple syrup drizzling from pancakes, making it look like a treat to watch. Well, your mind thinks it’s maple syrup.

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Well, we didn’t want to hurt your expectations, but you are mistaken, my friend! It’s not real maple syrup. It’s actually engine oil. Unlike maple syrup, the inedible engine oil doesn’t absorb into the pancake, giving pancakes in the picture or video a perfect appearance.

Many thanks to green men for the perfect swish!

When it comes to taking the perfect shot of hair, ad makers go to great lengths. Not only does the addition of hair extensions or foams do the job, but also, there is a significant contribution from green men who help to achieve that perfect swish.

Image courtesy by SuaveBeauty/YouTube

These green men drop the model’s hair repeatedly and flip it over or bounce it. This is later edited and cut out during the post-production phase. And this entire process helps to capture that perfect stellar shot with the dreamiest hair swish.

The hair is here! But now it’s gone!

Like we said before, adding attributes to hair is not the only trick you see in such advertisements. TV producers know some more tricks to fool you. While clipping on hair extensions looks more natural, sometimes, models don’t even wear the hair extension.

Image courtesy by SuaveBeauty/YouTube

For a lie-down shoot, most of the time, hair extensions are stuck on a backboard on which the model simply needs to lies down while the camera captures the photo from above. It also helps producers to reduce their effort of fixing the hair of the model every time.

The perfect foam on coffee? Maybe it’s just soap!

When it comes to shooting a perfect cup of coffee for a commercial, it is simply incomplete without foam in it. But is that foam on the coffee real? Maybe not. It’s not hard to achieve when it comes to the froth on coffee, but it doesn’t last long.

Image courtesy of diyphotography.net

So, what is the trick that most advertisers implement to get that consistent foam? Well, it is soap. No, we are not kidding! Foamy soaps are added to the cup of coffee that swims on the surface for a long time and lets you achieve the perfect shot every time.

Sauces are brighter when it is created with wax

Every time you see an advertisement for sauce on the TV, one thing is hard to ignore: the sauces appear even brighter than what you see in real life. It looks more appetizing and delicious when the actor spreads it over the bread or on the burger.

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But the truth is that this sauce is not at all real. These fake sauces are made of wax, which is heated and melted to the original sauce’s texture. Thus, the color these artificial inedible sauces produce is more vibrant and does not absorb into the food.

The perfect garnishing

Achieving the perfect garnish on food is not a myth, but how long it stays is doubtful. The advertisers know the right trick for it. They have mastered the art of garnishing through some stellar and witty tricks. Just wait until you see this next one!

Image courtesy of fstoppers.com

Well, to create an intriguing garnish on a liquid food like soup, producers put a small bowl inverted in the middle of the food, making it submerge completely. Then, they place the toppings over the flat surface of the immersed bowl, making the garnish stay in place for longer.

Shaving foam – The doppelganger of whipping cream

Whipped cream on the top of the cake looks great and gives the dessert an attractive appeal. However, if you have baked cake at home, no matter how good your baking skills are, keeping the peak of the whipped cream on the cake for a long time is too difficult. How does the TV keep cream on cakes in places for long periods of time?

Image courtesy of diyphotography.com

Well, advertisers use a clever trick to do so. They use shaving foam! Yes, they simply replace the whipped cream with shaving foam and create that perfect cream effect on the top of the cake that does not even melt with time.

Get easy smoky hot picture-perfect food with a steam machine

Well, you already know two methods to create a smoky hot effect for foods. However, there is another technique to impress you: the use of a steaming machine. When it comes to placing the food on the table and making it look steamy, it is easy to dry ice or a heated tampon, as we have learned already.

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But for foods placed in some other angle, it becomes trickier to use the previous two methods. In such cases, steam machines create that perfect subtle smoke steaming from the food while making them ready for a perfect shot.

The perfect dangling grapes

The way grapes sit in a fruit bowl slightly dangling outwards on a TV commercial always looks too perfect But, while you try placing grapes in your fruit bowl in that exact position, you might not achieve the perfect result. Then, how do advertisers manage to be successful in it? Well, they use a simple trick to accomplish this.

Image courtesy of npr.org

Firstly, they treat the grapes with a hair spray or talcum powder to create a shiny and fresh look. Then, with the help of a makeshift crane and string contraptions, the grapes are held in the proper place, allowing them to dangle perfectly from the fruit bowl, going against the gravity.

Those never-melting ice cubes!

As you bring out ice cubes from the fridge and place them in your soda, it hardly takes a few minutes for the ice to melt, shattering your dreams of capturing the perfect shot. But, when the same ice is used in advertisements, it does not melt so quickly; instead, it floats perfectly in a fizzy beverage.

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Well, they don’t use the “same ice,” dear! Those ice cubes that look completely perfect in the glass are not the real ones. They are plastic, which keeps their shape when dropped into soda and gives the photographer enough time to take that amazing shot of a chilled refreshing drink.

The studio-made burgers look even better

We know, every time you order a burger, the first thing you do is compare it with the burger shown in the advertisement or the picture provided on the menu. And the result shows a vast difference. But, what could be the real secret behind it?

Image courtesy of McDonald’s Canada/YouTube

Well, it’s the detailing from the TV studio when they arrange the burger. They even move the buns a bit backward from the patty so that the photographers can capture the perfect shot. But, when this burger, containing the same ingredients, is served in front of you at the restaurant, it is not arranged so distinctly. And that’s what creates the overall difference.

Juicy fresh seafood or food dipped in glycerol?

Are you a die-hard seafood lover? Even if you are not, the sight of juicy seafood in TV commercials can undoubtedly arouse your craving at any time. But, this sauce served with it only compliments its juicy texture. We give thanks to the notorious creativity of ad producers who have a smart solution for this problem, too.

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They will simply use a mixture of water and glycerol and apply it to the food to make it look fresh and luscious for a long time. These ingredients are used in many sauces that appear on TV to achieve that glistening effect. This is not what we expected!

Fake refreshing look with glycerin! 

Do you know another trendy use of glycerin apart from nourishing your skin? Well, don’t worry, learn it from the advertisers. Most TV commercials use glycerin these days to obtain natural frosts on the glass of a drink to help trigger your thirst.

Image courtesy of 5-Minute Crafts/Youtube

Ad creators spray some glycerin on the glass of the beverage, creating an instant frost effect. It makes the drink look refreshing. Well, they simply use this hack to attract you to their drinks and make you buy them, obviously. But when you get one from the shop, you realize just how much the commercials fooled you.

Undercooked meals for a crazy photoshoot!

When it comes to driving more customers to the restaurants, advertisers can go to many lengths with their tricks. This trick can help to have a great food photoshoot, making it appear too delicious and tempting to the audience so that they rush to buy it immediately.

Image courtesy of Money Talks News/YouTube

Thoroughly cooked foods do not look that appetizing. For example, a completely cooked burger looks flatter, and the French fries look paler. Thus, medium or low cooked foods find more usage in ad shoots to create perfectly fresh and fluffy burgers or fries. So, if your order does not look that fluffy, don’t worry; it’s well-cooked and won’t cause you digestion issues in the end.

Boiling water? Maybe an eyewash!

When it comes to taking that perfect shot of the boiling water, it can be tricky enough for the photographer to capture the snap at the right time. Also, it would take much time to form bubbles in the boiling water, delaying the shot. But then, in TV commercials promoting pasta or noodles, you’ll find how beautifully actors add ingredients to the boiling water. So, do they take this much risk just for a commercial?

Photo by GalileoRU on YouTube

Of course, no! And that’s why TV producers create the boiling water effect with a particular type of compressor that pumps air into the water via the tubes attached at the bottom of the pan. But until now, we naive people thought that the actor really cooked the noodles in these commercials!

Time for some edible coffee foam

We just read about a coffee foam trick that is created with fake soap foams. But when it comes to a scene in an advertisement where the actor has to take a sip of the coffee, this trick gets busted! But producers have got other pro hacks up their sleeves.

Image courtesy of GalileoRU/YouTube

In such a case, the coffee foam is created with instant coffee, an edible foaming material, and an aquarium filter. Then, the producers use a syringe to inject more bubbles into the coffee or eliminate the excessive ones. How crafty is that!

The fog machine trick!

Okay, this is the last steam-creating trick for the hot foods on our list. Apart from the steam machine trick, fog machines can also be a game-changer to create that piping steam that usually pours out of freshly-made hot foods.

Image courtey of GalileoRU/YouTube

The ad producers usually remove the bottom of a plate and place the food on a perforated plastic box over a fog machine. Then, using the remote control, they add the necessary fog, creating a perfect steaming effect for hot foods.

Dubbing actors – A great replacement of animals during ad rehearsals 

Well, it is quite challenging to make animals sit for a long time when shooting ads. They do not care whether you achieve the perfect shot or not. And even if they give a perfect shot, they will not sit for so long for the rehearsals. So, how are ad rehearsals done?

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The ad-makers replace the real animals with dubbing animal toys to eliminate the nuisance during rehearsals. And, they perform repeated rehearsals unless the actors are fully prepared to have a perfect final shot on the camera along with real animals.

The stunning car ads are created with a tricky effort

Do you know how speedy car advertisements are shot? Do they use a real car to shoot it? Maybe not! After all, who would involve a real brand-new car for shooting purposes, where there is no guarantee to save it from damages.

Image courtesy of millchannel/YouTube

So, what do ad producers do then? Blackbird car is the ultimate savior for them. The blackbird car can efficiently mimic any technical traits through a special computer program. One can even change the wheelbase, the diameter of the wheel, or the exterior and interior surfaces. It’s no wonder how these clever advertisers befool audiences!

There are some smart tricks to make a cat run in the right direction!

We all know how tough it is to command a cat and make it move on command. Even cat owners have a hard time making their own cats obey them. Then, how come the cats displayed in the commercials run so perfectly in the right direction?

Image courtesy of GalileoRU/YouTube

Yes, no doubt, they are well trained. However, producers simply use the cat’s carrier with their favorite food bowl kept in front of it. As soon as these innocent animals see their safe place, they run at it, failing to understand that ad producers are actually capturing their perfect shot.

Alcohol is the secret to the perfect dancing tea leaves in the kettle

Every time you see a tea commercial, you will find that the tea leaves tend to dance freely in the kettle, leaving an intense brown color with the perfect brewing effect. But sadly, you fail to accomplish this effect even if you buy tea from the same brand. So, what is the other side of the story?

Image courtesy of OrimiTrade/YouTube

In TV commercials, producers first boil the tea in the water with food colors to get a saturated reddish-brown hue. Then, the colored tea leaves are dried with a hairdryer and put into alcohol to create the perfect brewing effect. Also, they use a propeller at the bottom of the kettle to achieve the dance-like motion of the tea. Well, the TV commercials simply deserve a tribute for the way they fool audiences.