Can you spot what's wrong in this viral street ad?

A print ad for the restaurant Pastini
(Image credit: Pastini / @SamStout_ on Twitter)

This street ad for a restaurant might look tempting for anyone feeling hungry. Wine, pasta, garlic bread. Yum! But some eagle-eyed passersby have noticed something a little unexpected lurking in the photography.

Inspect the food a little closer and you'll notice that it's a more honest depiction what we're used to seeing in advertising photography. And with Photoshop-style object removal now so easily accessible, the internet can't quite believe that the intruder made it to the final poster (this one won't be making it to our pick of the best billboard advertising).

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'Excuse me waiter, there's a fly on my garlic bread! – or is it a stink bug?' The internet hasn't reached a conclusive identification of the genus, but incredibly it does appear that an some kind of insect has made it into the final version of this ad for a branch of Pastini – and is crawling over the food. 

Photos of the ad were shared on Twitter (opens in new tab) and to Reddit's r/CrappyDesign (opens in new tab) community, picking up over 20K views on the former and triggering much debate on the latter. "How did this get missed?" one person asked on Reddit. "Photoshop isn’t that hard; there’s no excuse for this," someone else remarked. 

Others pointed out that it's not even necessary to know your way around Photoshop these days to remove an object from a photo. In fact, several people who describe themselves as "bad at photo editing" demonstrated just how easily it can be done using just their phone's editing tools.

Pastini street ad with the fly edited out

Voilà! A ten-second edit to remove the bug using the clone stamp in Photoshop (Image credit: Pastini / Joseph Foley)

Much debate has ensued. Since it seems so incredible that the marketing team could have missed the bug in the image, people wonder whether it was left there on purpose to communicate honesty and realism? Or was the bug put there to generate just the kind of viral publicity the restaurant's now getting online? Some even wonder if the piece could be a nod to the old painterly tradition of the musca depicta (opens in new tab) as an observation that life is fleeting.

Of course, there's also a chance that the bug was edited into the photo of the ad after it was taken, or even that the insect happened to land on the sign when the photo was taken – although that seems unlikely based on the angle.

Sleuths on Reddit have tracked down the location of the restaurant to a square in Tigard, Oregon (apparently the only place with a Pastini and Lululemon beside each other). Apparently stink bugs are common there in summer. I wouldn't be surprised if someone goes down there to check the fly definitely is on the original ad.

Perhaps we need more of this kind of honest advertising (even if it isn't the most appetising) but if you want to easily avoid bugs creeping into your own images, see the best current prices on Adobe's photography plans below. In the meantime, for more inspiration, see our pick of the best print ads.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.