Title: POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Director: Morgan Spurlock (‘Super Size Me’)
Starring: Morgan Spurlock
Movies have always been an original outlet for filmmakers to tell their stories, but what happens when the lure of money and distribution deals become more tempting than creative control? Director Morgan Spurlock strives to tell the world what really happens in the deals between the entertainment and advertising businesses in his new documentary, ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.’ Not afraid to break down barriers to prove how product placement has become so transparent in movies, Spurlock was successful in showing how consumers make subconscious decisions on what to buy based on what they see in films, even though his documentary was paid for entirely through sponsorships.
‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ follows Spurlock as he examines the phenomenon of product placement, marketing and advertising in the world, particularly in movies. The documentary focuses solely on Spurlock reaching out to advertising agencies, product placement companies and brands, asking if they would finance the movie through pitch meetings and marketing presentations. The movie’s marketing process features the filmmaker in the center of the advertisements for the brands that ultimately agreed to sponsor the film. While most brand officials refused to be even interviewed on camera, let alone be associated with the movie for fear of how the publicity would harm their companies, there were several that agreed to take part, including Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Jet Blue, MovieTickets.com and Merrell Shoes. POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice ultimately became the lead sponsor, paying $1 million to have its name before the ‘Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ title.
When first hearing about the concept of ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,’ the plotline, or apparent lack there-of, of the film isn’t very appealing; sitting through an hour-and-a-half of Spurlock just asking companies if they want to sponsor his film about product placement in movies seems redundant. It seems as though it wouldn’t show audiences how product placement affects Americans’ lives. Even Spurlock has said that he and his fellow producers didn’t even know if this type of movie was possible when they first began filming, as they didn’t know if any brands would be interested in working with them.
But once viewers accept the fact that the point of ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ is to showcase the process of how filmmakers secure sponsorships for their movies, Spurlock’s unique approach to securing financing and fearlessness of going to whatever means necessary to achieve his goal becomes intriguing. He continuously calls brands to see if they would be interested in taking part in the film, even when most say no. He even travels across the country for the meetings and presentations, which, as Spurlock has said, shows “the absurdity and pervasiveness of product placement in our daily lives,” and how important advertising is in our lives.
Spurlock also shows how shockingly much control and say sponsors have in the creative content of movies and television shows. As more people are watching films and shows on-line or on their DVRs, they are fast-forwarding the commercials, so the companies need a new approach to reach their targeted audience. Often times brand officials tell directors that it they want their sponsorship, they have to feature their product in a particular way, and the brand must approve the final creative content. As Spurlock has said, ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ expertly shows the “unbelievable conversations and situations that happen behind closed doors every day in the entertainment and advertising business.”
One of the most memorable scenes in ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ is when Spurlock travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil, which banned all outside advertising and billboards in an effort to clean up the city and allow people reconnect with nature. Spurlock spoke with business owners, consumers and even Regina Monteiro, the Director of Urban Planning for Sao Paulo, and was able to prove that brands can survive, even without the excess advertisements. As Spurlock has said, businesses survive because “the Internet didn’t go away. All the other ways we get information didn’t vanish.”
With ‘POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,’ Spurlock achieved his goal of proving that no matter who you are, whether you’re a director, producer, screenwriter or consumer, no one is protected from the effects of advertising. Directors are so eager to gain sponsorships to raise money to release their films, and brands are determined to reach audiences to sell more of their products that the consumers are the ones who pay in more ways than one; they are given so many choices of what to buy they are even more confused than ever before.
Written by: Karen Benardello