Product Plug Film Gets Heat...But I Have Doubts


By Robert Marich

   April 22, 2011- Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is getting a lot of publicity heat and was well received at the Sundance Film Festival in January, but the premise kind of leaves me cold. I also will be interested to see if box office is strong or weak for a film that playfully delves into the behind-the-scenes world of placement of brand name products in films. Such films revealing Tinsletown have a poor track record.
   Among my reservations: we’re supposed to believe Pom beverages paid $1 million to have its name in the title (POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold)…oh, really? Who was next in line willing to pay $900,000? I’m not “sold” on that $1m figure.
   I'm also not sure moviegoers are all that interested in this mundate corner of show's no surprise branded products land in movies, TV shows, concerts and live events. Their appearances won't come across as authentic, which is what most product placements strive for.
   Anyway, Media Post’s Thom Forbes summarizes: Other brands participating in the doc besides (deodorant) Ban and the title sponsor, which shelled out a million bucks to Spurlock…are Carmex lip balm,, Hyatt, JetBlue, Mane 'n Tail shampoo, Merrell,, Old Navy, Petland, Sheetz and Trident gum.
   Supposedly, all the product shilling brought in $1.5 million. Ban deodorant reportedly paid $50,000 for its exposure. Spurlock says he pitched 600 brands. Spurlock is the filmmaker who took McDonald’s food to task in Super Size Me.
   “In The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, (Spurlock) may look ridiculous wearing clothes plastered with corporate logos, but he lets us in on the joke,” says a New York Times review by Stephen Holden. “His new film is a documentary comedy in the Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 911) mode but without a political or moral agenda. Mr. Spurlock has Mr. Moore’s prankster’s instincts, though not his sense of outrage.”
   We'll see!
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