POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold


Reviewed by: Val Kermode

In this very amusing and thought provoking documentary, Morgan Spurlock sets out to show the whole process of product placement in films. And how will he fund this documentary? By seeking out companies who would like to see their products placed in it.

“Brand integration”, as it is now called, has become very big business in films and TV. Iron Man and Sex And The City are two examples of films which caused some audience discomfort and scepticism in their relentless pushing of brands. So why not take this to its logical extreme and make this the subject of the film?

Copy picture

Spurlock decides to pitch his idea to companies, but which ones should he go for? He is first advised to consider his own “brand personality” in order to match this with suitable companies. There’s another nice little money-making niche. In fact, he decides to go for just about every company he can think of, starting with the biggest. His phone calls and rejections are recorded as part of the film. When a potential sponsor asks him about the plot, he explains that the process of pitching, making and marketing the film is the plot. “So… er… this is part of the film? We’re in the film now?" Yup.

Like a conjurer pulling rabbits out of a hat, Spurlock is mesmerising in his pitches. And his laughter is infectious. When he finds a product called Mane and Tail (a shampoo for use on horses and humans) he just has to include it in his film, although the company do not offer him sponsorship. He holds up a card to tell us this at the end of the film, just to make it clear.

He eventually finds 15 companies willing to join him, including Hyatt, Jetblue, Sheetz and most importantly Pom Wonderful, who are definitely not Coca Cola, but makers of a pomegranate drink who are willing to pay a million dollars to have their name in the title. The chief executive is a sharp cookie. She is all in favour of transparency, just what the director wants.

But now his troubles are just beginning. Every company throws at him a contract the thickness of a brick. Will he lose control of the film? What about his artistic integrity? Is he selling out? Of course, these are the very questions the film needs to ask, on behalf of all film-makers who need funding.

Spurlock interviews a variety of people on these moral issues, from Quentin Tarantino to Noam Chomsky, and gets some interesting replies. He widens his concern from film-making to sponsorship in schools and to advertising all around us. When he asks Ralph Nader “Is there anywhere I can go to get away from advertising?” the reply is “To sleep.”

In the documentary world of talking heads and archive clips, Spurlock’s personal approach stands out. But only because this director has the personality to carry it through. His serious pill is coated with so much sugar that it slips down as easily as a fairly well-known pomegranate drink. (Pom Wonderful contains no added sugar.)

Reviewed on: 09 Jun 2011
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POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold packshot
The filmmaker sets out to finance a documentary about product placement in the movies by making his own product placement deals with major companies.
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Director: Morgan Spurlock

Starring: Morgan Spurlock

Year: 2011

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: United States

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