Hold the Happy Meals.
After working overtime to counter the claims made by Morgan Spurlock in his hit doc “Super Size Me,” McDonald’s is bracing for a second wave of docu-driven controversy.
The spin battle began anew last week as Cinema Libre Studio bowed “McLibel,” which details the Golden Arches’ libel suit against a pair of U.K. activists — the longest trial in England’s history — just as the chain launched a new promo campaign for its active lifestyle menu to encourage kids to get off the counch.
“McLibel” bowed June 10 in San Francisco; it opens in Minneapolis on June 17 and Seattle and Portland on June 24.
Doc chronicles McDonald’s suit vs. Helen Steel and Dave Morris in 1990 over a pamphlet the pair handed out in 1984. In 1997, an English judge ruled the chain had been libeled by most of the allegations and fined the pair £40,000 ($73,000); but the court did uphold three of the allegations — paying low wages, cruelty in rearing some of its animals and exploiting children in the targeting of its advertising.
Director Fanny Armstrong completed a 57-minute version of the doc in the U.K. in 1998 but has beefed it up to feature length to include a ruling last February by the European Court of Human Rights, which declared the case breached the defendants’ right to a fair trial. The court ordered the U.K. to pay $45,400 in compensation and offer a retrial.