McDonald’s advertorial or documentary?

If you cast your eyes across Seven on Monday night after Revenge you’ll catch an Aussie-made documentary titled McDonald’s Gets Grilled.

The film, produced by WTFN sees six volunteers putting Maccas food under the microscope, visiting suppliers including vegetable farmers and Ingham Chickens. But unlike SuperSize Me, this one has been funded by McDonald’s Australia.

So does that make it an advertorial or a documentary? Seven didn’t pay for the film.

McDonald’s insists it did not impose any editorial control and the people recruited by WTFN were unaware of the program’s nature until shooting began.

WTFN is one of the most successful producers of branded entertainment in Australia including Sudden Impact, Guide to the Good Life, Supercar Showdown, Shopping for Love as well as broader hits such as Bondi Vet, Trishna & Krishna, Coxy’s Big Break and Mercurio’s Menu.

Seven spokesman, Simon Francis, said there was no connection between the film’s screening and the fact the company is a major advertiser on Seven; the company spends $33 million a year on ads across all media. The doco also gets a bumper lead in, with nearly 2m viewers watching Revenge.

Geoff Brown, executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, said, ”From our point of view, it’s an advertorial and not a documentary.”

The Australian Communications and Media Authority would not comment until it had seen the show.

In this Easter non-ratings period, it isn’t the only oddity in Seven’s schedule.

On Good Friday it will screen An Innocent Man, a half hour docudrama produced for the Christian Television Association. It isn’t clear whether CTA has paid for the airtime, or whether Seven has donated it as part of its religious programming commitments.

McDonald’s Gets Grilled
Fast food is full of fat, sugar and preservatives. It’s slowly killing us, contributing to a worldwide epidemic of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. This documentary targets one of the world’s most famous but equally controversial companies, McDonald’s. Six volunteers, as chosen by a team of investigative journalists, are given an all-access pass to McDonald’s, set out to ask the tough questions about what goes into the food they eat, including the use of pesticides and preservatives, as well as issues surrounding staff exploitation, hygiene, holding periods and how the food tastes. As we follow this intriguing journey it will be more than a program about fast food. It’s a social experiment. One that tests whether people, faced with overwhelming evidence challenging their long-held prejudices, can ever accept the truth.



  1. With the release of channels like TV4ME and Extra just being paid advertorial I predict the increase in the blur of whats paid and whats real production. The sad and sorry fact is that marketing and PR companies rule and they will get their message accross no matter how sneeky. I guess all we can do is vote with our remote on these kinds of ‘shows’.

  2. friendly croc

    It’s pretty obvious this is not a documentary. In fact it’s offensive to call it such. When a film’s subject is paying for the finished product (!) all you get is propaganda (I’m a little hesitant to use such a strong word, but it does fit the definition).

    From that rather condescending last sentence in the synopsis we can presume this show will “debunk” the first two sentences. No coincidence that McDonald’s are currently running advertisements strongly pushing the freshness of the ingredients in their food?

    I’m reminded of Kerry Armstrong’s embarrassing “Coca Cola Myths Busted” print ad.

  3. i don’t think seven are showing a doco about where mcdonalds get there food from, 9.30 on a Wednesday because they think it’s so entertaining, i think it would be safe to say that mcdoanlds has had some influence here.

  4. Secret Squirrel

    McDonald’s commissioned surveys to gather data on how they and their products are perceived by people. They are concerned about the results and have committed to a multi-platform, multi-pronged marketing strategy to try to improve their image.

    This 48-minute advertorial (I’m including the actual McDonald’s ads that will run) is one of those prongs and it is no coincidence that it runs off the back of Seven’s highest-rating program for maximum penetration.

    Prepare yourselves for more ads/stories/”news” about healthy food choices, family orientation, and community involvement.

  5. A religious program, based on the Easter story, shown on Good Friday is deemed a schedule “oddity”?

    And according to the Christian Television Australia webpage, no they do not pay networks for program airtime.

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