March 11th, 2011
"Greatest Movie Ever Sold" Sure Hit on Madison Avenue and Beyond
At one point in Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary that promises to have Madison Avenue buzzing, advertising guru Bob Garfield becomes so wowed by Spurlock’s work, he declares the film: “Evidence about how f*cked up marketing is!”
Weird as it may sound, the film has Garfield speaking about the film, while appearing in it. It’s at the core of what makes “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” an ingenious conceit.
The crazy-like-a-fox Spurlock, known best for his McDonald’s-assaulting turn in “Super Size Me,” dreamed up the idea after pondering a far-too-overt Nissan integration in NBC’s “Heroes.” He set out to make an exposé about product placement, financed entirely by product placement.
“The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” becomes a film within a film about how films get made (well-described by The Wrap). From Sony Pictures Classics, it follows Spurlock’s efforts to persuade a series of brands to foot the $1.5 million he needs for production.
Spurlock has some ups and downs on that trail. Coke and Pepsi don’t return his cold calls. But others are open to hearing his pitch. Cameras in his meetings with Ban deodorant, Sheetz Convenience Stores and POM juice offer some of the film’s highlights. Others, come later once Spurlock has inked deals and “delivers” for those sponsors.
As his journey is chronicled, Spurlock mixes in commentary about the product placement ecosystem. Developing that material likely led him to Garfield, the former Ad Age columnist, who thought how profound: Having marketers pay for product placement in a film pointing out the absurdity of product placement?