Boundary-pushing Oscar-nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) explores the world of product placement, marketing and advertising in POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film that was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film. While using brands in film promotion is not new for Hollywood, it certainly is new territory for the documentary format. Spurlock exploits the phenomenon to new heights, with everything from branded pizza boxes and in-flight film promotions to branded-everything in-film. With humor and insight, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold unmasks the marketing process to bring audiences behind closed doors directly into the pitch meetings and marketing presentations which ultimately inform our everyday entertainment decisions. Sponsors were provided with brand category exclusivity. The brands that agreed to sponsor the film placed Spurlock front and center in their brand campaigns and advertisements, both on and off-line. Partners have the unique right to promote themselves in association with Spurlock and the film as “The Greatest.” The agreements also stipulate that Spurlock maintains creative control of the film’s content and final edit.
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
by director Morgan Spurlock
The idea for POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold began with a conversation between me and my producing partner and co-writer, Jeremy Chilnick, where we talked about the TV show Heroes and their less than subtle inclusion of the Nissan Rogue into the show’s storyline. The conversation quickly grew into a discussion about all the big summer movies, from Transformers to Iron Man to James Bond, and about how all those product placements were more than just advertisements for products,
they were tools that made these movies’ footprints and awareness even bigger…
these ―co-promotions helped turn them into blockbusters.
That’s really when it hit us. If a little movie, even a documentary, had the same type of partnerships and co-promotion opportunities, could it have a bigger presence? Would it have the same influence? Could a doc reach the same level of awareness and marketability of a summer blockbuster? Could it be a… docbuster?
Brands are everywhere these days. It seems like I can’t go to any event these days without someone sponsoring it: sporting events, concerts, anything. So, why not a movie? Better yet, why not a movie that examines the whole phenomenon that is actually paid for by the companies themselves. That was the jumping off point.
Now product placement isn’t a new phenomenon. In the 1800s, Jules Verne sold the naming rights to shipping companies in Around the World in 80 Days, and in the early days of film, Thomas Edison put ads for his own products in his movies. But television has always been its own animal. When it first began, shows were actually paid for and written by the advertisers, and the whole purpose was to sell a product. (Let’s not forget that soap operas were created by soap companies for the sole purpose of selling more soap to
But as the popularity of film and television grew, the power of the advertisers diminished. It became about star power. It became about the content of the shows and the creativity of their creators. Over the last few decades though, that power has slowly been chipped away as more and more networks and outlets are competing for the same ad dollars and the same eyeballs. And so, the advertisers began to have power again, not only to get the air-time they wanted, but with the ability to dictate the content.
This film explores the give and take that happens when you play the game or at least what happens when you try, and I think the film will open a lot of people’s eyes to the believable conversations and situations that happen behind closed doors everyday in the entertainment and advertising businesses. It doesn‘t matter if you’re a writer, director, producer, or musician, you are affected by this on some level… but not nearly as much as the consumer.