The Aftermath: How Super Size Me Effected the Fast Food Industry
Image Courtesy of: (Heavy.com)
McDonald’s on Super Size Me:
“A super-sized distortion of the quality, choice and variety available at McDonald’s.”
–The Associated Press (2004)
So… did it work?
Despite the shocking results of Spurlock’s film, the fast food industry and McDonald’s in particular declined to say that the documentary had any impact on their business. However, interestingly enough, one day before the release of the movie, McDonald’s introduced a new “Go Active” menu. Even though they claim to have not been affected by the documentary’s findings, they clearly felt the pressure to add healthy options on their menu before the general public viewed the movie. By doing this, advocates against McDonald’s had less ammunition to use against the company. This way, McDonald’s could claim that their campaign to get healthy happened before the movie’s release and therefore had no impact on the decision. However, the timing between the release of their “Go Active” campaign and the release of the movie is clearly related. McDonald’s knew that the movie would have adverse affects on their image so in order to lessen the blow; they preemptively made the changes to their menu.
In writer Oliver Burkeman’s interview with Morgan Spurlock for the online magazine The Gaurdian, Spurlock reiterates that if McDonald’s was as healthy as they claim, he should have theoretically been fine after eating it for 30 days:
“A spokesman for McDonald’s comes on TV and says listen, you can’t link our food to these girls being obese. Our food is healthy, it’s nutritious. So I said, well, if it’s that good for me, shouldn’t I be able to eat it for 30 days straight with no side-effects? To live the all-American diet of over-eating and under-exercising, and be fine?”
In fact, the entire premise of the film was in response to this inquiry. Below is a short clip of Morgan Spurlock talking about how he came up with his questioning of just how “healthy” McDonald’s truly was:
Six and a half years after Super Size Me was released, Spurlock did a follow up interview in which he discussed and fielded questions about life after the movie. When asked which fast food restaurants have done the most to comply with better nutritional practices, he responded:
“That’s a good question. One which I probably don’t have the best answer for…”
Spurlock then pointed out the fact many fast food chains now offer healthier options and that the fast food industry simply say these changes are merely “coincidental” in taking place during the release of the film . Yeah, okay.
From the perspective of the fast food industry, the healthy changes made had little or nothing to do with the documentary. However, it is painfully obvious that major changes occurred after the release of the movie despite an admittance from fast food chains.
Compared to 2002, people nowadays expect a great deal more from the food industry. We still want our food fast but we also want it healthy thanks to the eye opening documentary from Morgan Spurlock.
by: Kevin Mallory
Burkeman, Oliver. “‘Your Liver Is Turning into Pate'” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 15
July 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.
The Associated Press. “McDonald’s Phasing out Supersize Fries, Drinks.” Msnbc.com. The Associated
Press, 3 Mar. 2004. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.
“Full Menu Explorer.” McDonalds.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.
Spurlock on Super Size Me. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013