For the release of the documentary Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken! advertising agency Humanaut and Director Morgan Spurlock will open a fast-food chicken restaurant in New York from Sept. 11 to Sept. 22 to feed patrons while educating them on its “natural, free-range, hormone-free chicken sandwiches.”
But therein lies the rub. The original Super Size Me took McDonald’s to task for upselling bigger, cheaper burgers to a consumer market that was indexing higher for obesity, diabetes and other health issues. Since then, and partly in response to that film, McDonald’s and other fast food brands have turned to marketing their menu items as healthier, fresher and more sustainable. Enter Holy Chicken!, where Spurlock keeps after the corporate food giants and takes aim at this whole new wave of marketing tricks. Holy Chicken! is billed as “a fast-food brand that just tells the truth.” The film opens in New York City and Los Angeles on September 6. Spurlock will appear at the shop on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 11 a.m.
Humanaut built the Holy Chicken! brand featured in the documentary as well as all assets for the pop-up shop, from the cartoon chicken mascot and the Instagram-friendly décor to the artful explanations of the adspeak to the design of all cups, signs, tray liners and other collateral. The shop’s founders, David Littlejohn and Andrew Clark, are featured in the film as Morgan’s insider guide to the “health halo” created by food marketers.
The biggest thing that has changed about cheap fast food in 15-years since “Super Size” is how cheap fast food is marketed,” said David Littlejohn Humanaut’s Co-Founder and Chief Creative Director. “We’ve been fighting the BS in food marketing since we opened shop. We couldn’t be more excited to help build the world’s most honest brand while entertaining and educating people about the deceptive practices used by the fast-food and advertising industries.”
At the modest (read: authentic) Holy Chicken! pop-up at 18 W. 23rd St., customers can order the Original Grilled Crispy Chicken Sandwich (with painted-on “gryll” marks), Li’l Cluckers Chicken Tenders, veggie sides and “Holy Water” seen in the film from a deliberately sparse (“has an appearance of quality”) menu. The shop will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Meanwhile, decorative store signage delivered in a faux farm-to-table aesthetic points out to patrons the myriad ways fast-food and other quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have adapted the way they sell their food to appeal to more conscious consumers by crafting positive-sounding phrases in handwritten type and environmentally friendly green hues. A small floor map notes the amount of space a farm is required to claim that its chickens are raised “free range.”