It's very rare that I walk away from a movie uncertain about how I feel.
I recently rented POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed by brands, advertising and product placement.
Product placement is a form of advertising where branded goods appear in tv, movies, etc. The most infamous product placement in is probably the Reese's Pieces in ET in 1982. The candy was used prominently in the film to lure the alien out of it's hiding place (M&M supposedly turned down the opportunity to be this candy). Sales for Reese's Pieces went through the roof.
It's a Morgan Spurlock production (Super Size Me, 30 Days), which is part of it's appeal, and probably the only reason this concept had any chance of working.
Basically what happens is, Morgan wants to make a documentary about branding and product placement, and to do this he decides to have the entire movie funded by brands, promising them product placement in the film. So the entire documentary is him trying to lock down sponsors, and him plugging their products, while still retaining creative control of his film.
POM Wonderful ends up being the title sponsor. Merrell, a Wolverine World Wide brand is also a sponsor (which is the other part of the film's appeal- for me). Mane 'n Tail is NOT a sponsor interestingly enough, as they seem to get the most air time in the movie.
Now I'm in advertising, I get how this works, but I think I'm struggling here for a couple reasons.
First. Yes product placement happens. Yes producers go to corporations and give a schtict promising to prominently feature their products. But one would think they would choose products that naturally fit into a scene. (Dentists aren't going to have patients gargle with Quacker State motor oil for example.) And I for one would rather see a can of Coke versus a government issue style can of cola—it makes a scene in suburbia much more believable. (And in the case of the Reese's Pieces, it's cute!)
Second. There wasn't an end to the movie. I wanted to see if the movie was a success. Did the brands that sponsored this bizarre documentary see any positive results? But obviously they can't show the effects of a film, in the film they're currently making. It's logistically impossible (though I'm sure I could look it up now...). So the premiere of the movie (and reactions) is not in the movie because, well, they had to finish the movie before they could premiere it. (God my head hurts).
I'm sure Morgan realizes all this. He's simply poking fun at the whole process and challenging us to question everything we see. But I can't get past the question, did it work???
YES. I have to say it did. BECAUSE, after watching this movie, I said to myself, 'you know, I've never had POM. I think I should try it. And I went out and bought a little bottle of POM for $5—spending much more than I normally do on juice—and I tried it. I fell for it.
So any of you readers see it? Do you think it worked?
** Here is a review I found online that I think said it really well: “The premise of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is more intriguing than the execution.”