The Super Size Me film is 20 years old this month… but it certainly hasn’t hurt McDonald’s

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the controversial Super Size Me film. While at the time it seemed to influence some big changes at McDonald’s, it hasn’t hurt the fast food chain at all.

Directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, the documentary followed the filmmaker as he ate only McDonald’s products for 30 days straight to demonstrate the negative impact – both physically and psychologically – the fast food has on customers.

Following its release on May 7, 2004, Super Size Me was a hit, grossing over $US22 million on a budget of just $US65,000, and soon after, McDonald’s discontinued its super size menu for six weeks. However, as Sean Aylmer pointed out on an episode of the Fear and Greed podcast this week, those changes didn’t last long.

“But 20 years later, McDonald’s is much bigger with 42,000 locations, and there are about 40 fast food chains in the US with more than 500 locations each, according to a report in the NYT,” Aylmer said.

“Fast food is the second-largest private employment sector in the country, after hospitals, and 36% of Americans – about 84 million people – eat fast food on any given day. The three major appeals of fast food remain intact: It’s cheap, it’s convenient and people like the way it tastes.

“And the share price of McDonald’s is up nearly 1,000% since Super Size Me came out, twice the return of the broader S&P500.”

In 2017, Spurlock released the sequel, Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!, however it did not reach the heights of the 2004 movie.

Listen to the full episode here.

Meanwhile just this week, McDonald’s was revealed to be the top brand with ad awareness in Australia, ahead of Woolworths, Coles and Bunnings.


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