Greetings again from the darkness. This is billed as "a documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed and made possible by branding, advertising and product placement". My issue with the movie is that it's not really ABOUT anything! It's really more of a "How To Raise Money For Your Movie By Selling Advertising". And that does have some funny scenes and provide a glimpse into how the leaders of companies think.
Morgan Spurlock hit the big time in 2004 with his Oscar-nominated "Super Size Me", in which he filmed himself eating only McDonalds food for a full month. The difference in that movie and this one is that previously, he did much research and explained to the viewer the significance of cause and effect. In this most recent film, he promises insight into the abundance of product placement in the entertainment world, but really we get only a mish-mash of images and scenes.
The segments can be divided into these categories: conference room presentations, celebrity talking heads, industry experts, and Mr. Spurlock's own ruminations. Each of these segments are entertaining ... heck some are laugh outloud funny ... but in the end, we are left holding an empty bag. We have no more understanding of product placement than when we started. What we do have is a better feel for how desperate companies are to find new ways to advertise their products.
Some of the products featured in the film are: Hyatt, Jet Blue, Mini Cooper, Merrill shoes, Sheetz (gas and convenience) and of course, Pom Wonderful - the 100% pomegranate juice whose President and Owner ends up spending $1 million for above the title sponsorship. Some of the talking heads include Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Paul Brennan and Donald Trump. We get brief chats with film directors Peter Berg, Brett Ratner and Quentin Tarantino. Throw in a couple of lawyers, musicians and some industry experts and you get the impression that Spurlock did his homework.
I have spent some time thinking about this and I will stick to my conclusion. What the movie doesn't do is provide any insight or detail into what drives product placement in entertainment. However, the movie does a decent job showing us how presentations are made to advertising managers at companies, and it leans heavily on Mr. Spurlock's often-hilarious viewpoint of situations (Mane & Tail shampoo). When you get right down to it, isn't this just a glimpse at one segment of capitalism? When you have a product to sell, you are constantly looking for the most effective way to advertise that product to potential customers. Sorry, that's not insight, that's just Marketing 101.
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