The concept behind Morgan Spurlock’s film “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” was to see whether it was possible to fund a documentary about product placement, marketing and advertising using only money made from product placement, marketing and advertising within the documentary – confused?
The result is a metafilm where the subject matter is the film itself, and we see everything from the conception of his idea for the documentary, to his pursuit of sponsorship from major corporations, his boardroom talks with those he manages to hook to the promotional work he does in the lead up to the release of the film.
His aim is to see whether he is able to raise funds through sponsorship deals and stick to his contractual agreements without losing control over the project and his own brand image. This is something that he does by taking a rather satirical approach – he does what he promises to do, and he doesn’t mock the products but he makes it obvious when he’s doing it, and why he’s doing it.
During the movie he also looks into the pervasiveness and effectiveness of advertising in todays world – where American schools are having to sell advertising space in classrooms and on school buses to avoid classroom cutbacks and neuroscientists are able to study the reactions that popular brands have on the brain.
His main sponsors, the juice company Pom, make an important point about brand compatibility – in any brand partnership there must be an alignment of values or both parties will lose power and authenticity. In a partnership you are lending your authenticity to your partner, and if you haven’t vetted this partner, if your brands are not compatible, you will both lose face.
This is an interesting look at the power of major brands and their influence on society and the arts. Well worth a watch for anyone with a particular interest in product placement.