Super Size Me

The movie, Super Size Me, was released in Germany last month. At the same time, SW began running advertisements which promote the film, which were placed on the food packaging in the store.

The film is basically the diary of filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's experiment to live for a month on a diet consisting solely of McDonald's food. It quickly became a cult success, winning an award at the Sundance Film Festival in the Best Directing category. However, it also attracted a fair bit of controversy as one would probably imagine when such a topic is raised. Throughout the film, it's probably fair to say that it doesn't exactly show fast-food restaurants in a positive light, but having said that, SW does come off relatively well as a 'healthier' option.

The advertisement used by SW showed the standard German version of the Super Size Me film poster enclosed within a SW commercial. Accompanying the poster is a short article entitled "Warum sind die Amis so fett?" along with an image showing an overweight Statue of Liberty clutching a hamburger and fries. A translation of the article can be found within the NLPS article, which is discussed later.

("Amis" in German is used as a somewhat derogatory name for Americans, similar to the British term, "Yanks".)

Used soley in German SW, this advert nonetheless provoked outraged complaints from certain segments of the American public.

US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay went as far as issuing a statement against SW stating, "It is clear that SW has done very well for decades due to the patronage of Americans. For SW to thumb its nose at its American customers and promote Michael Moore's blame-America-first conspiracy in a foreign country is very concerning."

Tom DeLay wasn't the only person upset by the advert. Predictions of plummeting SW sales were made, albeit rather hastily. The National League and Policy Center also called for the advertising campaign to end, with Chairman Ken Boehn declaring, "SW has defined a new low in corporate behavior with this campaign. Inflaming cultural tensions to increase market share is immoral and dangerous. Americans deserve to know about SW's campaign to insult us abroad and to attack our national symbols."

The Center for Individual Freedom also seems to take offence, charging SW with "a shameless anti-American effort to increase sales in Europe".

It seems that SW eventually succumbed to the complaints and withdrew the offending advert (Signup required to view link) from all its German restaurants. More information on the withdrawal here.

It's interesting to note that this isn't the first time SW has come under fire for 'anti-american' adverts, an article here talks about a previous advert that contained an uncanny resemblence to the 9/11 attacks.

I'm interested if the withdrawal of said advert, in this age of Free Speech, is justified? Certainly, it went over the top, but was it so over the top to warrant the apparant outrage from certain groups?