Morgan Spurlock tackles product placement


POM Wonderful, JetBlue, Hyatt, Sheetz Convenience Stores, Straight Arrow and Amy's Kitchen are among the advertisers supporting The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The film, which premiered this weekend at Sundance, was made by Morgan Spurlock, who gave us 2004's scathing McDonald's expose Super Size Me. For his new venture—an appraisal of the ubiquity of advertising and an indictment of product-placement practices in Hollywood—Spurlock enlisted corporate cooperation (though the companies had no say over what was shown on screen). In the film, the director is seen pitching the brands on ways they could fit into his movie, including a meeting with POM in which he suggests claiming the beverage gives men erections. (Hey, that stuff's gotta be good for something, right?) The companies are even backing him with $1 million—as long as the film generates 600 million media impressions, makes $10 million at the box office and sells 500,000 DVDs. So, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold assails product placements while garnering funds from the brands it features. That post-modern, ironic approach gives the flick multiple layers of meaning—and it's great for publicity. But there's one major flaw. For better or worse, the public has come to accept (or at least tolerate) placements—and hardly demonize brands that engage in them. How much outrage is Spurlock expecting to drum up? Even a smart-aleck ad blogger like myself can't get worked up about it. Now, excuse me while I step out for a POM. I just had a sudden craving for antioxidants, that's all.