McD's may take hit from 'Fast Food Nation' film

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McDonald's Corp. is wise to brace for a potential sales drop when a movie based on Eric Schlosser's book "Fast Food Nation" hits theaters later this year and "Chew on This," his book for kids, hits shelves in May. At least 61% of readers polled online by Advertising Age believe these projects will hurt sales at Mickey D's, even if they disagree over the length and depth of the damage.

Beth Fornaro, senior broadcast producer for Marc USA, Pittsburgh, believes the "potential for harm is great if this film succeeds in planting the 'gross' factor in consumers' minds," she wrote. "Seeing firsthand some of the potentially unsavory aspects of food prep is probably the biggest threat. Look what the finger in the chili did to Wendy's."

Even if there is an effect, it will be short-lived, said others. Angela Natividad, marketing analyst for DriversEd.com, agreed the bottom line could suffer in the near term, but "I see McDonald's taking precautionary stances in which health and wellness are promoted, and they'll see this thing through," she wrote.

Patrick O'Malley, marketing coordinator for RdF Corp., sees the potential harm as a mere blip. "After 'Super Size Me,' many of my peers claimed they would never touch fast food again," he wrote. "Two weeks later they had forgotten all about their promises and were back at the drive-through."

Former McDonald's marketing executive Brad Ball, CEO of Ball Entertainment Corp., thinks a sales impact is unlikely, but said the more likely scenario will be a "number of meetings inside the company to discuss current and future initiatives to deal with flack." He said, "'Super Size Me' may lay claim to having pushed 'super size' off their nomenclature, but sales/transactions actually increased over the past three years. Go figure."
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