Morgan Spurlock takes on product placement and advertising in “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold“, with the help of Pom, so “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold“. On the surface it sounds like a great idea. Yet the release of this documentary is a bit ironic because of his timing in covering product placement. The reason that I say this is because product placement was the focus of films like Josie and the Pussycats years ago. Advertisers have become more transparent about their attempts at marketing to consumers, but generations born in and after the seventies are accustomed to being marketed to, and sort of come to expect it.
The concept of the film is that Morgan Spurlock has a series of board meetings with companies selling him on his idea to create a film about product placement. From what I can tell that is the entire documentary. That can be very entertaining or very boring. Take his other documentary “Super Size Me”. He was transparent with the audience and with his doctor, but I don’t know if McDonalds was in on the joke. There was a sense that he went undercover, and that he was involved in some sort of covert espionage, and a lot of pundits went onto YouTube to either prove or dispel his theories.
The problem with taking on product placement is that there isn’t anything to take on at all. Everyone already knows about it, and thanks to the Internet and the placement of ads on websites, and bloggers everywhere that are paid to be corporate shills and give away products to their audience products are not just being placed, but everyone wants a piece of the action for themselves. If you have ever watched a movie or a television show and the entire cast was outfitted by the same fashion designer you should be able to recognize product placement when you see it.
Even “The Truman Show” had its own jokes about product placement. Audiences may not have realized that “The Truman Show” was its own joke about the transparency of television during the Golden Era of the fifties. The movie was very effective at delivering a number of messages about the transparency of television and cinema in general; and you took whatever message you wanted to about the movie home with you.
There are other aspects about product placement that are not as transparent as those that Morgan Spurlock is covering in the film, according to the trailers. I would like to see online advertising covered more in depth; debacles such as the way that Motrin insulted the intelligence of Moms or how an Aflac contract is lost overnight because of a tweet in poor taste are far more interesting than what happens on television. I honestly did not know that Gilbert Gottfried was the voice of those commercials. With television and cinema you know that big products carry a large budget and product placement is a way to handle those exorbitant costs. Music videos have been a medium for fashion designers for years, and hip-hop music offers some of the most obvious, blatant product placement I have ever seen. But on the other hand, product placement is as much a part of the culture of rap music than the idea that someone can be a star through reciting poetry over music in a creative way.
I plan on seeing this film knowing that this is Morgan Spurlock’s finest attempt at creating a film about nothing. If you did not know that Morgan Spurlock’s documentaries are stories about nothing you may not have been paying close attention. He may be telling you something about product placement, or he might not tell you anything that would help you arrive at a conclusion you have not already realized for yourself. But if the film is anything like “Super Size Me” the audacity of the product, his own sense of humor, and the fact that Morgan Spurlock seems like a really nice guy that would be cool to meet (because he can set you at ease and make you laugh) is as much a part of the fun as the topic of conversation at hand; which often is not really that interesting, when you think about it …