'Super Size Me' prompts McDonald's press fightback

LONDON - McDonald's is responding to the release of Morgan Spurlock's documentary 'Super Size Me' with an advertisement telling people the company agrees with the film's main premise.

The advertisement, created by McDonald's in-house team along with retained agency Leo Burnett, will run in the Times and the film pages of the Guardian and Independent this week. It is timed to coincide with Spurlock's promotion of his film in Edinburgh.

The text-heavy ad is headlined: "If you haven't seen the film 'Super Size Me', here's what you're missing." The text then reads: "What we do agree with is its core argument -- that if you eat too much and do too little, it's bad for you.

"What we don't agree with is the idea that eating at McDonald's is bad for you."

The documentary follows Spurlock over 30 days as he eats nothing but food from McDonald's. At the end of the experiment, his weight and cholesterol level have risen dramatically and his liver function is severely affected.

In the McDonald's ad, the restaurant chain highlights the fact it has introduced healthier items to its menu. It claims the amount of food Spurlock ate during his experiment was quivalent to what the average McDonald's customer eats at the chain over six years.

The calm, rationed approach contrasts strongly with McDonald's response to the movie in the US. While the UK ad describes the film as "slick" and "well-made", McDonald's in the US called it "a gross-out movie" and responded with an agressive PR campaign.

Amanda Pierce, a spokeswoman for McDonald's, said it had produced the advertisement because it believed people would be interested to hear what the company thought about the film.

"It quite clearly sets out to ensure there's balanced debate," she said. "I think people will be surprised to learn how much we agree with what is in the film."

The ad's run may be extended depending on Spurlock's promotional plans for the film. Earlier this week, Marketing revealed 'Super Size Me' would be supported by guerrilla activity at shopping malls and an outdoor and radio campaign. TV commercials are also being considered.

The film is being co-promoted by the British Heart Foundation, the British Medical Association and Sustain, which lobbies for better food and farming.

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